On Saturday, South Korea warned citizens to stay inside their houses at a "critical moment" in its battle against the deadly coronavirus after recording the highest jump in the number of infections in a single day with 594 new cases taking the tally to 2,931.
After China, where the novel virus originated, South Korea has the largest outbreak of COVID-19 with the death toll surging to 17 amid a record daily increase in infections since the country confirmed its first patient on Jan. 20.
Kim Kang-lip, the Vice health minister said, “We have asked you to refrain from taking part in public events, including a religious gathering or protest, this weekend."
It was a “critical moment” in containing the spread of the virus, he told a briefing, adding, “Please stay at home and refrain from going outside and minimise contact with other people.”
At least 476 of the new cases reported were from the southeastern Daegu city, the site of a church at the centre of the outbreak, and 60 from the nearby province of North Gyeongsang, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.
Health officials have tested over 210,000 members and 65,000 trainees of the church that is associated with most of the cases after a 61-year-old woman known as “Patient 31” attended religious services there before testing positive.
Kim said that 88% of the people have been checked,, out of which about 3,300 have shown symptoms such as fever.
The church was accused by provincial officials of not releasing a complete list of members, although the church denied the accusation, and urged an end to “slander and oppression” of its followers.
As per Kim, the government was working with municipal authorities to check if the church provided an incomplete list.