Coronavirus in South Korea linked to religious sect

Church linked to half of South Korean cases

About half of the coronavirus cases in South Korea have been linked to a church whose founder claims to be the second coming of Jesus Christ, according to the South China Morning Post.

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There were 214 new cases of coronavirus in South Korea on Tuesday, bringing the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 927, according to the World Health Organization. The virus has killed 10 people in the country.

In this Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, file photo, workers wearing protective gears spray disinfectant against the new coronavirus in front of a church in Daegu, South Korea. In Daegu, most of the dozens of cases detected since Wednesday are linked to one

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Members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus had been meeting in Wuhan, the quarantined Chinese city at the heart of the outbreak, until sometime in December, the Post reported.

“Rumors about a virus began to circulate in November but no one took them seriously,” one unidentified member of the church told the Post.

The church has a branch in the Korean city Daegu, which has a population of about 2.5 million people. Half of South Korea’s coronavirus cases have been linked to that church in Daegu, the Post reported.

Korean health officials have pointed to one member of the Shincheonji church who they said at first refused a request to be tested for coronavirus because she hadn’t traveled out of the country. She visited several public places, including a church service, before eventually being found with the virus.

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A thermal camera monitors shows the body temperature of people at the gate of an indoor gymnasium in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

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The church dates back to the 1980s and claims to have 250,000 followers, according to the BBC. It has been accused of being a cult by some critics of its unorthodox practices and beliefs.

Worldwide, there were more than 80,000 coronavirus cases confirmed worldwide Tuesday, according to the World Health Organization. More than 2,700 people have been killed by the virus.

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