Cult Korean Church Suspected in Local Coronavirus Outbreak
- Officials in Daegu suspect hundreds of additional coronavirus cases could be confirmed in the days to come.
- Over 400 people from the Shincheonji Church are showing symptoms of the virus.
- The outbreak started with a single individual at the church.
South Korea has become the most infected country by coronavirus just behind China. The nation currently has 204 confirmed cases, but the number can substantially increase in the short-term due to one individual.
Shincheonji Church, a cult church located in Daegu, South Korea, is at the center of the coronavirus outbreak in South Korea.
A report from government-funded news agency Yonhap shows 409 people that attended the church are now showing symptoms of coronavirus.
The city of Daegu is anticipating even more individuals to be confirmed as coronavirus patients in the days to come, prompting the Mayor to prioritize containment in the short-term.
According to Yonhap, everyone at the church who were confirmed to have coronavirus were infected by a single individual.
Earlier this week, the 31st confirmed coronavirus patient of South Korea went to the cult church – which believes its founder and pastor will live forever – affecting at least 80 people within the venue.
Since 135 individuals with connections to the cult church were confirmed to have coronavirus, more people have started to alert the authorities that they are seeing symptoms of the virus.
If the 409 individuals are also confirmed to have coronavirus, that could spike the total tally of coronavirus cases to more than 500 overnight.
Authorities worry that Daegu is the fourth largest city in South Korea, and if there are hundreds of infected coronavirus patients who are yet to be quarantined, the outbreak could expand rapidly.
Ties to Wuhan
JoongAng, a mainstream publication in South Korea, reported that the cult church expanded to Wuhan, China in 2019.
A capture from the official website of the cult church showed that the church was established in Wuhan, Washington DC, Uganda, and the U.K.
Local reports suggest that the ties of the cult church to Wuhan could be the link between the church and coronavirus.
The church has said that it is unable to verify whether individuals from its branch in Wuhan traveled to South Korea and caused additional infections.
It stated that its Wuhan branch was closed down years ago, refuting reports that linked the church to the Chinese city.
Videos show that the streets of Daegu are completely empty, with schools, stores, and public centers closed.
Citizens have said that they have never seen Daegu like this, not even during the MERS outbreak in 2015.
The KOSPI, the main stock index of South Korea, dropped by 3.6 percent in the last five days, as concerns remain on the longevity of the outbreak.
The government of South Korea and health officials remain uncertain about the potential size of the outbreak, especially in Daegu, with hundreds of potential coronavirus patients.
This article was edited by Samburaj Das.
Last modified: February 21, 2020 10:34 AM UTC