Right-wing pastor tests positive . . .
South Korean officials confirmed today that the head of the controversial, 4,000-member Sarang Jeil Church has tested positive for COVID-19. The Reverend Jun Kwang-hoon is under investigation for violating election laws and has been rallying right-wing Christians against the current administration, organizing several protests despite warnings from public health authorities. Authorities said the religious leader participated in a rally on Saturday despite a notice to self-isolate and accused him of spreading misinformation and encouraging risky behaviour among his flock.
‘May face a health system collapse’ . . .
South Korea had 197 new COVID-19 cases today, with triple-digit new cases for four days in a row. Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (KCDC) Director Jun Eun-kyeong said today that South Korea “may face a health system collapse,” and urged immediate action. Many of the cases have emerged in Seoul, especially around Christian churches, which have defied public health protocols. More than 300 members of Jun’s church have tested positive, making it the second-largest COVID-19 hotspot after Daegu’s Shincheonji Church, with 5,214 linked cases. Jun has framed the attempt to enforce public health protocols as the current administration’s politically-motivated attempt to silence dissidents. Public opinion around Jun and Christian churches remains heated; as of Monday, more than 240,000 South Koreans had signed a petition calling for the imprisonment of Reverend Jun.
Too early to pop the champagne . . .
South Korea is not the only country in the region seeing a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. Vietnam, which had not recorded a single death until July 31, now has 976 cases and 24 deaths. Japan continues to see an increase in the number of cases as well, recording 1,360 new cases on August 15. Reports of a new mutation of the virus in Malaysia, meanwhile, have dampened hopes of a return to normalcy. Similarly, British Columbia and Alberta saw a sharp increase in the number of cases last week. The resurgence in Asia, which has been relatively successful at containing the virus, is perhaps a timely reminder for Canadians that a return to normalcy may be much further off than the start of a new school year in September.
- The Korea Herald: Immediate action needed to avoid health system collapse: KCDC
- The Korea Herald: Pastor Jun tested positive for COVID-19
- Los Angeles Times: Pastor of South Korean church linked to at least 300 coronavirus cases tests positive