PM asks for Protestant community's cooperation amid church-linked virus outbreaks
SEOUL, Feb. 3 (Yonhap) -- Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun has called for Protestant churches' cooperation with state antivirus measures amid a string of outbreaks tied to churches throughout the country.
On Tuesday, Chung met with leading members of the United Christian Churches of Korea and the National Council of Churches in Korea at the government complex in Seoul and asked for their help in containing the new coronavirus pandemic.
"Last week, COVID-19 cases spiked again after showing a decrease," Chung said during the meeting. "The government had to extend the strong social distancing measures for another two weeks," he added.
Chung explained that while most churches were complying with the antivirus rules, some cases of compliance failures were leading to continuing outbreaks at churches.
Since Jan. 24, the number of cases linked to International Mission (IM), a local Christian missionary group operating nationwide, has reached 385.
On Sunday, the government decided to extend Level 2.5 social distancing measures, the second-highest in the country's five-tier scheme, in the greater Seoul area, and Level 2 in other regions until Feb. 14. Bans on gatherings of five or more people are also to stay in place for another two weeks.
"We must firmly stabilize the (virus) situation this week," Chung said in acknowledgment of growing complaints among small business over the extended virus curbs.
According to the prime minister's office, the church leaders expressed regret for the cluster infections tied to church-related facilities and promised to make all-out efforts to contain further spread of the virus.
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