The Korea Herald


Religious facilities biggest source of infection clusters: KDCA

By Ock Hyun-ju

Published : Jan. 22, 2021 - 13:13

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Religious facilities were the biggest source of COVID-19 group infections in South Korea for the past year, with one in three confirmed patients being in their 40s and 50s, according to health authorities’ analysis. 

According to the analysis by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on COVID-19 cases from Jan. 20 last year to Jan. 19 this year, 45.4 percent of all coronavirus cases in Korea were classified as “mass infections.”

A mass infection is a group of infections traced to a large outbreak at a specific facility.

The biggest source of mass infections was religious facilities at 17 percent of cluster cases, followed by Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a minor religious sect at the center of the country’s first wave of infections, at 16 percent and nursing hospitals at 13 percent.

Workplace-linked infections accounted for 11 percent of the total cluster infections, followed by social gatherings at 10 percent, medical facilities at 8 percent, and indoor and leisure facilities, educational institutes and prisons at 4 percent.

Mass infections traced to restaurants and cafes made up 2 percent, according to the KDCA analysis.

“Mass infections took place at facilities where people closely contact each other in enclosed and packed environment and mask-wearing is difficult due to food consumption,” said Lim Sook-young, a senior official from the KDCA. 


Over the past year, there were 141 infections for every 100,000 people in the country.

Of the confirmed patients, 51 percent were women.

By age, 61.3 percent of the patients were in their 20s to 50s.

By location, 6 in 10 cases were registered in the Seoul metropolitan area -- Seoul (31.1 percent), Gyeonggi Province (25.1 percent) and Incheon (4.9 percent.) Daegu, which was the epicenter of coronavirus wave in February last year, was home to 11.2 percent of the country’s total cases.

On Friday, South Korea reported 346 more COVID-19 cases, including 314 domestically transmitted cases, raising the total caseload to 74,262, according to the KDCA.

After the third wave of COVID-19 here reached its peak on Dec. 25 with 1,240 cases reported in a single day, the virus curve has been flattened out since then.

The daily tally has stayed in the 500s last week before it dropped to 389 on Monday and 386 on Tuesday. It hovered around 400 on Wednesday and Thursday.

By Ock Hyun-ju (