South Korean eye-catching cult behind the country’s Covid rise as believers avoid jab – World News

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At least 241 people tested positive for coronavirus in a cult known for its anti-government beliefs in the city of Cheonan, near Seoul, South Korea, where many of the older congregation refused the vaccine, it is claimed.

Covid testing takes place in Cheonan, South Korea
Covid testing is taking place in Cheonan, South Korea after the outbreak

A South Korean sect led by an eye-catching pastor has been blamed for the country’s soaring Covid case.

Authorities refused to release the name of the church but said at least 241 people had tested positive in the city of Cheonan, near Seoul.

The country has reported a new daily record of 4,116 cases as it struggles with an increase in serious cases, straining local hospitals.

Referring to the infections in Cheonan, the Korean Bureau of Disease Control and Prevention said: “We believe the outbreak is large.”

About 90% of the religious community were unvaccinated and the majority had close contact through a common life.

Many of the parish were older in their 60s and up and were unvaccinated, the city official said. Only 17 of the 241 confirmed cases had been vaccinated.

The religious community in Cheonan has been hit by an increase in cases



An official from the city of Cheonan said: “I think it is the Church’s anti – government belief that prevented the believers from getting the vaccine.”

However, the KDCA said it was not possible to determine exactly why such a large number were unvaccinated, as the elderly and people with underlying conditions were not banned from inoculation.

The church opened in the early 1990s and has since grown with its own shared housing.

The religion is not officially registered as a sect, but the ritual act performed by the pastor is known as the so-called “laying on of hands”, a practice of sticking two eyes to get rid of secular desire, Jung youn-seok, a head a think tank of cult information resources told Reuters.

“Such an act is extremely dangerous and non-biblical. It is a direct ban on Korean Christianity,” Jung said, adding that the pastor’s mother was a powerful figure and was expelled from the Christian community in the 1990s for practicing identical rituals.

Calls to the church from Reuters went unanswered.

The outbreak is a small part of the national total, but is an example of a cluster with a high concentration of cases.

Shincheonji was a church at the center of the First Major coronavirus epidemic outside China in early 2020, with at least 5,227 people connected to its 310,000 followers infected after attending a service in the city of Daegu.

South Korea this month switched to a “live with Covid-19” plan aimed at lifting rigid distance rules and finally reopening after reaching vaccination targets last month.

Since then, there has been a sharp increase in cases with a new daily register of infections on Tuesday.

If you just look at the metropolitan area of ​​Seoul, the situation is critical enough to introduce an emergency plan at any time,

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum told a response meeting on Covid-19 on Wednesday.

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He urged health authorities to classify patients accordingly based on the severity of symptoms and to use self-treatment options for mild or asymptomatic cases.

Less than 20% treated themselves at home last week, Kim said.

The Korea Bureau of Disease Control and Prevention (KDCA) had said the emergency plan could be implemented if and when the nationwide ICU bed capacity exceeds 75% or depending on the risk assessment examining inadequate medical responses, increasing the number of elderly patients and boosting shots.

Hospitals treated 586 serious Covid-19 patients at midnight on Tuesday, and quickly filled up limited hospital beds for serious and critical cases. More than 85% of them were 60 years or older, KDCA data showed.

71% of ICU beds were filled nationwide and 83.7% only in the capital Seoul and surrounding areas, Son Young-rae, a senior official in the Ministry of Health, said at a briefing, emphasizing the ministry’s efforts to secure more beds with administrative order.

Hundreds were still waiting for their beds. Despite the increase in hospital stays, the country’s mortality rate is still relatively low at 0.79%.

South Korea was one of the first countries to register new cases of coronavirus after it emerged in China at the end of 2019. It has since had 425,065 infections, with 3,363 deaths.

The country has fully vaccinated 79.1% of its 52 million people, while only 4.1% have received a booster dose.

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