Half of Coronavirus Infections Linked to Sect Followers

  • By Choi Kyu-min

    June 30, 2020 10:17

    New figures published Monday give a clearer picture of how the coronavirus epidemic has affected Koreans who actually caught the disease.

    About half the infections in Korea were traced to followers of the secretive Shincheonji sect, an enormous proportion given that it only has a few hundred thousand members in a population of about 50 million.

    Regardless of religious affiliation, women in their 20s made up the largest proportion of cases, but the fatality rate was slightly higher among men than among women.

    Sincheonji sect members were responsible for 47.1 percent of infections with 5,212 of the total 11,468 cases that had occurred until May 31, according to the Statistics Research Institute on Monday.

    Next came group infections in nursing homes and call centers (20.3 percent), arrivals from abroad (12 percent), and infections among those who had come in contact with patients (11.2 percent).

    A mother and a child wait to test for coronavirus at a makeshift facility in Gwangju on Monday. /Yonhap

    People in their 20s appeared the most vulnerable to infection, accounting for 27.7 percent of the total confirmed cases, followed by those in their 50s (17.8 percent) and 40s (13.3 percent). Women made up 58.2 percent, but among the 270 deaths until then, men made up 53 percent.

    That brought the mortality rate among men to three percent, compared to 1.9 percent among women. Though the tally is small, the death rate seems to increase with age to a whopping 26.3 percent among patients in their 80s, who were often already weakened by other diseases and physical decline.

    Meanwhile, big data show that mobility in Korea is slowly returning to normal.

    The daily average mobility between Feb. 24 and March 1, the fourth week since the coronavirus outbreak, plunged to 71 percent of pre-disaster levels. But it rose to 84 percent in the week from May 4 to 10 and 94 percent during the long weekend from April 27 to May 3. 

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