As the coronavirus cases continue to rise in South Korea, the authorities are scrambling to find almost 3,000 members of a religious group which practises an offshoot of Christianity. South Korea has reported 13 deaths due to the deadly virus and has confirmed more than 500 new infections, taking the total to over 2,300, the most number of reported cases outside mainland China.
The major outbreak in South Korea took place in the southern city of Daegu where most of the cases were related to Shincheonji members. Last week, health surveys were conducted on 30,814 Shincheonji members of which 740 tested positive for COVID-19. During the health survey, 210 members performed the task on behalf of the government since group leaders stated that members won’t take calls from people outside the group.
Though the Korean government raised the virus alert level to ‘red’, most of the cases were largely centred in Daegu and the neighbouring north Gyeongsang province. “Korean Government has declared Daegu and Cheongdo county in Gyeongbuk as ‘Special Care zones’. In this situation, please reconsider non-essential travel to these places,” tweeted the Indian Embassy on February 24.
The Indian Embassy in South Korea has already urged its citizens to reconsider non-essential travels to Daegu and Cheongdo county in Gyeongbuk after these were declared as “Special Care zones” by the government in the wake of coronavirus outbreak. The Embassy issued an advisory for Indian nationals living in South Korea following several calls and e-mails from them regarding the spike in the number of coronavirus cases in South Korea over the past few days.
According to the latest report, 44 new deaths in China due to coronavirus infections have been confirmed, taking the total death toll because of the deadly virus to nearly 2,800. While most of the cases are from Hubei province of China and the city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, other countries, including Iran, Italy, Japan and the Philippines, have also now reported deaths related to COVID-19.
(With inputs from agencies)