Nearly 50 people have been infected with Covid-19 at a church in South Korea after an official sprayed salt water into members’ mouths because they thought it would kill the virus, according to The South China Morning Post, citing officials.
An official at the River of Grace Community Church in Gyeonggi Province, near Seoul, used the same spray bottle on multiple church-goers without disinfecting the nozzle, causing a large number of the 100 or so attendees to be infected, including the church’s pastor and his wife.
Video images showed the official sticking the nozzle deep into the mouth of different members when one of them was already infected with the coronavirus.
“It’s been confirmed that they put the nozzle of the spray bottle inside the mouth of a follower who was later confirmed as a patient, before they did likewise for other followers as well, without disinfecting the sprayer,” Lee Hee-young, head of Gyeonggi Province’s coronavirus task force, said on Monday.
“This made it inevitable for the virus to spread."
“They did so out of the false belief that salt water kills the virus,” he added.
The church has now been closed and all of its followers who attended prayer sessions on 1 March and 8 March are being tested.
The cluster of cases have emerged as South Korea has seen a significant reduction in new Covid-19 cases, in part due to extensive testing.
South Korea confirmed just 74 new cases on Monday, marking the second consecutive day of the number of additional cases being below 100.
The number of people released from care on Sunday after recovering from the virus also surpassed the number of new infections.
However, despite its success in slowing the spread of the outbreak, South Korea’s government said it was now concerned about potential clusters of cases forming in city areas.
“It is still too early to relax,” Chung Sye Kyun, the prime minister, said on Monday.
“The government will concentrate its efforts on preventing cluster infections.”
Kim Gang-lip, South Korea’s vice health minister, has told people to avoid mass gatherings and adopt “social distancing” measures, urging citizens to “not let [their] guard down”.
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