SEOUL - A church in South Korea's capital Seoul has become a new epicenter of coronavirus infections with a total of 676 cases traced to it as of Thursday afternoon, raising concern about the virus' spread in the greater capital region and beyond.
South Korea on the same day reported 288 new cases of the virus, 276 of them domestically acquired. Out of the 276, 135 were traced back to Seoul and 85 to the surrounding Gyeonggi Province, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More than 3,200 people from the church have so far been tested for the virus, and the public health agency is closely monitoring those who visited a rally in Seoul last Saturday as some church members also took part in it.
The country has seen a triple-digit rise in virus cases every day for the past week. The government has already tightened social distancing rules in the metropolitan area, while ordering karaoke parlors and clubs to shut. Church services were banned on Wednesday in the metropolitan region except for those conducted online.
The outbreak at the Sarang Jeil Church, which is headed by a conservative political activist, comes months after mass infections emerged in the southeastern city of Daegu, many of them related to worshippers at the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a minor religious group.