South Korea confirmed 52 more cases of novel coronavirus on Friday, taking its overall figure to 156 and making it the worst-infected country outside China.
Altogether 39 of the new cases were linked to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the southern city of Daegu, the Korean Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said.
More than 80 members of Shincheonji have now been infected, starting with a 61-year-old woman who developed a fever on February 10 but attended at least four church services before being diagnosed.
The mayor of Daegu — South Korea’s fourth-biggest city, with a population of over 2.5 million — has advised residents to stay indoors, and commanders at a major US base in the area restricted access.
Residents wore masks to go about their daily activities Friday.
Shincheonji is often accused of being a cult and claims its founder, Lee Man-hee, has donned the mantle of Jesus Christ and will take 144,000 people with him to heaven on the day of judgement.
The KCDC said one more case had been confirmed at a hospital in Cheongdo county near Daegu where a total of 16 infections have now been identified, including a long-stay patient who died Wednesday after showing symptoms of pneumonia.