South Korea has reported 586 new confirmed coronavirus cases.
South Korea cases pass 3700
Hyonhee Shin and Daewoung Kim
- Australian Associated Press
Churches have been closed in South Korea with many holding online services instead, as authorities fight to rein in public gatherings with 586 new coronavirus infections taking the tally to 3736 cases.
That came a day after the biggest daily jump of 813 cases in South Korea’s battle with the largest virus outbreak outside China, said the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).
In the capital Seoul, about a dozen worshippers were turned away from the Yoido Full Gospel Church, which put a sermon for its 560,000 followers on YouTube, filmed with a small choir instead of all 200 members and 60-strong orchestra.
Health authorities have urged South Koreans to refrain from attending religious services and political events and stay indoors this weekend, warning of a “critical moment” in the battle against the virus.
For the first time in its 236-year history, South Korea’s Catholic Church decided to halt masses at more than 1700 locations nationwide. Buddhist temples have also called off events, while major Christian churches held online services.
At Yongsan in central Seoul, a notice outside the large Samil Presbyterian Church advised parishioners all gatherings had been cancelled, with the parking area closed off.
President Moon Jae-in called for unity and vowed greater efforts, including an extra budget, to fight the outbreak, in a speech for the 101st anniversary of a movement to win independence from Japanese colonial rule.
“The outbreak can threaten our lives temporarily, but it cannot break our unity and hope,” Moon said in the speech.
Moon proposed joint efforts with North Korea to prevent an outbreak in the neighbour and improve healthcare.
North Korea has not confirmed any cases but imposed a month-long quarantine for those with symptoms, and state media said its leader, Kim Jong-un, held a meeting on stricter measures.
The crisis spooked trade and financial markets, leading Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor and LG Display to temporarily shut down a plant each and prompting boy band BTS to cancel a world tour set for April.
More neighbours suspended flights and banned visitors from South Korea.