On Friday, South Korea reported 256 new cases of novel coronavirus infection. The total tally of cases has reached 2,022 from the outbreak in the country was first reported on Jan. 20. The country has become the second most-affected after China and the death toll touched 13 so far.
Majority of cases in South Korea are linked to an obscure religious sect, named the Shincheonji, Church of Jesus, based in country's south-eastern city of Daegu, that has more than 310,000 followers. Although, the initial number of cases reported were low for over a month, cases started multiplying after a religious congregation of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, at Daegu, where a 61-year old woman infected other members.
Coronavirus cases in South Korea: latest update
Out of 256 cases reported on Friday, 182 are in Daegu, Yonhap News Agency reported. Out of the 2,022 cases reported in the country, 42% (840 cases) are directly linked to the Shincheonji church. A total of 1,314 cases have been reported in Daegu.
Government's action on Shincheonji members
The South Korean government secured the list of more than 310,000 Shincheonji church followers. About a third were tested for the virus and 1,600 persons with symptoms have been self-quarantined.
"We've checked one third of the listed people, or 110,000 followers", Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said in a press briefing. "Out of them, 1,638 people showed symptoms of coronavirus infection and we've placed them on self-quarantine", he added, Yonhap News Agency reported.
Those without symptoms are also closely monitored, the minister said. Government will also look into foreign travel records of the Shincheonji followers. A branch of the shadowy church is reported to be based in Chinese city Wuhan, where the disease is said to have originated at a local sea-food and wet market.
Meanwhile, the Daegu Metropolitan government has decided to file lawsuit against the local branch of Shincheonji. The government has accused the church of providing false information about the number of its followers, thus hindering government's disease-control efforts.