(11 AM on Sun, Aug. 16, 2020)
Greetings. I am Seo Jeong-hyeop, head of the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s (SMG) Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters.
Here is a report on the current state of COVID-19 cases in Seoul as of August 16.
As of 12 AM today, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is 1,987, which has increased by 146 compared to 12 AM yesterday. Currently, 403 patients are hospitalized.
This is the first time in Seoul that the number of new confirmed cases exceeded three digit figures. This record is more than triple even compared to that of March 10, when the number of new confirmed cases was at its highest.
Among others, the number of new confirmed cases related to Sarang Jeil Church in Seongbuk-gu amounts to 107.
It is not exaggerated to say that we are facing a serious situation that we have not experienced—even more serious than what we had gone through.
This summer holiday season is a critical, touch-and-go time for the spread of the disease. The SMG will be operating the strategic 3T (Test. Treat. Track) initiative to fight against COVID-19 as swiftly as possible.
Decisive legal steps will be taken against the actions of disturbance and noncooperation regarding disinfection that threaten the safety and lives of the members of our community.
First, the SMG will do its best to secure sickbeds.
As of 10 PM on August 15, the rate of operation of Seoul’s sickbeds is over 51.5% as 389 beds are being used out of 755. In preparation for the surge in demand, we are operating community treatment centers (CTCs) with 100 sickbeds. Additional beds that we will be securing as soon as possible will make the total to 350 sickbeds.
For those who find it difficult to self-quarantine at home, the SMG is operating 542 rooms for temporary stay, using hotel rooms in the city. The SMG has plans to rapidly secure more rooms.
It is remarkable that the number of new confirmed cases related to Sarang Jeil Church in Seongbuk-gu is surging sharply. As of August 16, the number of related confirmed cases is 193, out of whom 145 is living in Seoul. Until the present, 771 individuals among the congregation and visitors have received the testing and 144 turned out to be positive, 280 negative, and the rest waiting for results.
Still, the progress of testing is not sufficient.
The SMG has ordered 4,066 target individuals to receive testing. Among them, the SMG pinpointed the locations of 3,397 individuals, out of whom 1,971 living in Seoul have been instructed to self-quarantine and get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible. We urge the congregation and visitors who are living in other cities and provinces to get tested as soon as possible.
We need the locations of 669 individuals who we still cannot find out where they live.
Through cooperation with the Korean National Police Agency today, the officials of the SMG will visit their homes door-to-door to press them to get tested and remain in self-quarantine.
Additionally, the list of target individuals for testing will be updated based on the list of the congregation saved in the computer of the church’s administrative office and the visitors’ log with handwritten personal information of participants of the church service.
In February, we witnessed a state of emergency caused by Sincheonji, which was explosively escalated as the church submitted an incorrect list of congregation and their reluctant attitude about testing.
Our most important task is to prevent the repetition of the same danger and disarray.
Not only the staff of Sarang Jeil Church but all of its congregation and visitors should get tested at their local screening clinic of a public health center.
Those who refuse to get tested may face up to KRW 2 million in fines in accordance with the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act and may have to pay the treatment fee for confirmed cases caused by him of her, if applicable.
Additionally, they will be liable for the spread of COVID-19.
Despite being responsible for disinfection and who has been ordered to be in self-quarantine, Rev. Jeon Gwang-hun of Sarang Jeil Church in Seongbuk-gu did not comply with the self-quarantine order and spread false information to delay the testing of his congregation.
It is an evident malfeasance that threatens the safety and lives of the community. The SMG will accuse Rev. Jeon Gwang-hun and other personnel of Sarang Jeil Church in Seongbuk-gu for the violation of the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act.
Particularly, it is reported that some individuals among the congregation of Sarang Jeil Church participated in public assembly on August 15. Participants who are symptomatic are advised to get tested at their local screening clinic of a public health center.
We are now at a critical crossroads in terms of resurgence of COVID-19.
The foundation of social antibody to win the fight against COVID-19 is the strenuous effort of medical and disinfection staff as well as government officials who are desperately taking part in the battle day and night, together with the heart of citizens who are more concerned about their family, neighbors, and the country than themselves.
Let’s take a break for a while. Please actively take part in social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The SMG will do its best for disease prevention and control, trusting the cooperation of citizens as always.