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(LEAD) Incheon reports 23 church-related virus cases

All News 15:55 June 01, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES figure and details in headline, paras 1-3)

INCHEON, June 1 (Yonhap) -- At least 23 infections traced to a local church were reported in the western port city of Incheon on Monday, raising alerts over additional new coronavirus cases in the wider metropolitan area.

They include 13 pastors, five family members and five churchgoers. Of them, 18 people attended a meeting at a church in the Incheon ward of Michuhol on Thursday, according to city officials.

Health authorities are testing 12 other participants in the session for the virus.

The participants, who came from churches in Incheon and nearby Gyeonggi Province, are assumed to have contracted the infectious virus from a 57-year-old pastor who attended the event.

Campaigners promoting quarantine guidelines walk past a church in Incheon, west of Seoul, on June 1, 2020, following group infections reported at the religious facility. (Yonhap)

"Most of the patients were found not to have worn face masks during the church event," a Michuhol Ward official said, adding that the church did not hold a Sunday service over the weekend.

Authorities have yet to identify the infection route of the 57-year-old, who started showing symptoms Thursday.

Officials said they plan to tighten inspections of religious facilities and track other people who may have come in contact with the patients.

South Korea reported 35 new cases Monday, bringing its total COVID-19 caseload to 11,503.

Of the 35 cases, 30 cases were local infections that were reported in Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi Province. The remaining were imported cases.

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