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Gwangju hit by infection clusters from church, table tennis club

All News 09:34 August 27, 2020

GWANGJU, Aug. 27 (Yonhap) -- The southwestern city of Gwangju reported 54 new cases of the new coronavirus over the past two days, with clusters from a church and a table tennis club accounting for the bulk of the infections, officials said Thursday.

According to the metropolitan government of Gwangju, 39 citizens were diagnosed with COVID-19 on Wednesday, including 30 members of Seonglim Baptist Church in Buk Ward. On Thursday, the city added 15 new coronavirus cases for a total of 345 as of 8 a.m.

Members of Seonglim Baptist Church wait outside the church in Gwangju, southwestern South Korea, on Aug. 26, 2020, to take a coronavirus test after 30 members tested positive for the virus earlier this week. (Yonhap)

Municipal authorities speculate that the church cluster appears to be traced to a female member in her 60s, who attended the church's worship service three times -- two on Aug. 16 and one on Aug. 19 -- after participating in the Aug. 15 rally of conservatives critical of the Moon Jae-in government in Seoul's Gwanghwamun Square.

The 30 church members infected with the pandemic were found to have attended the same services as the woman, though one of them also took part in the Gwanghwamun rally, officials said.

They said 10 out of Thursday's 15 new cases occurred among members of a table tennis club in eastern Gwangju, adding the remaining patients contracted the virus outside the city, including in Incheon, Paju of Gyeonggi Province and Cheonan of South Chungcheong Province. Only one infection came from abroad.

Alarmed by the outbreak of clusters of infections, Gwangju's government plans to convene a private-public meeting later in the day to discuss whether to elevate the city's social distancing guideline to Level Three, the highest in the three-tier system.


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