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[Newsmaker] River of Grace Community Church sprays saltwater into worshippers’ mouths

Security camera footage shows a River of Grace Community Church member spraying saltwater in another member’s mouth upon entering the church. (Yonhap)
Security camera footage shows a River of Grace Community Church member spraying saltwater in another member’s mouth upon entering the church. (Yonhap)

River of Grace Community Church in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, is alleged to have sprayed saltwater into the mouths of people attending church services on March 1 and 8, which may have contributed to the cluster infection of at least 46 people with the novel coronavirus.

“It is very unfortunate. As we were reviewing the CCTV footage from River of Grace Community Church, we found that members of the congregation were sprayed saltwater into their mouths one-by-one because of misinformation that saltwater is effective in preventing the spread of coronavirus. This is an example of ‘infodemic,’ an epidemic caused by misinformation,” said Lee Hee-young, co-chief of the Gyeonggi Province COVID-19 Emergency Response team, on Monday.

“We expect more people to show up positive with coronavirus as everyone was sprayed,” Lee continued. “The spray nozzle was not sanitized after each spray, so we consider it almost, if not direct, contact.”

So far, this is the second largest cluster infection in the area surrounding the capital.

Seongnam Mayor Eun Soo-mi said in a briefing earlier in the day that tests of 106 of the 135 people who attended the Sunday service on March 8 showed an additional 40 people infected with the novel coronavirus, with eight people being retested. Six people connected to the church had earlier tested positive for the virus.

By Lim Jang-won (ljw@heraldcorp.com)
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