Another South Korean religious group investigated over Covid-19 outbreak

Update 1: Adds case of cat testing positive

Seoul, Feb 15 (efe-epa).- South Korean police searched the headquarters of a missionary organization Monday for being behind an outbreak of Covid-19, a new case in the country of a Christian group being accused of violating health emergency laws.

Authorities stormed the International Mission headquarters in Daejeon city (about 165 kilometers south of Seoul), Yonhap news agency reported.

The agents took computers, hard drives and documentation that may contain evidence that the group violated the health emergency law and caused an outbreak that has already affected more than 400 people in different cities.

Daejeon city council denounced the group, accusing the organization of holding services despite the ban triggered by authorities or of ignoring capacity limitations in the classrooms of several of its schools.

The mission’s leader, a missionary named Michael Jo, will be taken to the police station to testify about it, according to the police.

The man has tested negative for the virus, although he had to remain in quarantine after being in contact with infected people.

The mission operates a total of 23 centers across South Korea, including several colleges.

Christian groups have been a constant focus of infections in South Korea, where the country’s first major outbreak was linked to the Shincheonji sect in February 2020.

In turn, last August the presbyterian Church of Maximum Love was behind some demonstrations and several religious services that led to the second-largest outbreak of Covid-19 that the country has faced.

Seoul City Council said Monday it had detected Covid-19 in a domestic cat, the first of its kind since the South Korean capital last week launched a pioneering testing system for pets.

The cat that has tested positive is between four and five years old and lives with a family in which all members are infected with the virus, a statement from the metropolitan government said.

After the first positives in the family, the cat began to vomit and grow tired, so it was tested, a city council spokeswoman told EFE.

The feline is in quarantine for 14 days in a municipal animal shelter since all members of the family are in medical centers (South Korea hospitalizes the majority of positive cases.)

Protocols established by Seoul, the first city in the world to implement a pet testing system, does not require that animals that test positive be sent to specific centers.

Since it has not yet been proven that animals can infect humans, Seoul allows those who have tested positive to be kept in their own home or with a designated keeper as long as they are not in direct contact with other animals or people.

Since launching its pet testing system on Feb. 10, Seoul has tested three dogs and the aforementioned cat for coronavirus.

Only those pets that show symptoms or have been in contact with infected humans can undergo the municipal testing system.

Although in a very isolated way, mammals of different species have been infected with COVID-19 by humans in different parts of the world, from dogs to minks and even lions or gorillas. EFE-EPA


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