South Korea reported on Monday 476 new Covid-19 coronavirus cases, taking its national tally to 4,212, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.
The death toll rose to 22, up from 20 the day before, KCDC said.
Of the new cases, 377 were from the southeastern city of Daegu, home to a branch of the Shincheonji church at the centre of South Korea’s outbreak, and 68 from the nearby province of North Gyeongsang, KCDC said.
The agency said some Shincheonji Church of Jesus members in January visited the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the disease emerged late last year, though it was investigating to determine whether that played a role in the outbreak.
The leader of the Shincheonji church of Jesus, Lee Man-hee got on his knees and bowed at a news conference on Monday apologised to the nation for the disease’s spread .
Members of the fringe Christian group are believed to have infected one another and then travelled around the country, apparently undetected. The group has been accused of keeping its members’ names secret, making it harder to track the outbreak.
But church spokesman Kim Shin-chang told the BBC they had provided a list of members, students, and buildings to authorities.
“We were worried about releasing this information because of the safety of our members,” Mr Kim said.
Mr Lee claims he is the second coming of Jesus Christ and identifies as “the promised pastor” mentioned in the Bible who will take 144,000 people to heaven with him.
The Shincheonji Church is labelled as a cult within South Korea and also in the Christian community, which results in the group often being discriminated against, persecuted or criticised, Mr Kim told the BBC.
South Korea government officials closing down a branch of the Shincheonji church in Gwangju, last month. While, Mr Lee is now facing possible murder charges after being accused of failing to cooperate in efforts to contain the virus.