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South Korean church leader says coronavirus outbreak is the ‘devil’s deed’

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Workers wearing protective gears spray disinfectant against the coronavirus in front of a church in Daegu, South Korea. Picture: Lee Moo-ryul/Newsis via AP/African News Agency (ANA)

Seoul – The leader and self-proclaimed messiah of a South Korean religious movement at the centre of the country’s largest coronavirus outbreak on Friday called the disease the “devil’s deed” and a test of faith.

Lee Man-hee sent the message on an internal app used by members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony, which he founded in 1984.

“This disease case is seen as the devil’s deed to stop the rapid growth of Shincheonji,” he wrote in the message, images of which were published by Yonhap news agency. “Just like the tests Job went through, it is to destroy our advancement.”

South Korea reported 52 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Friday, taking the national total to 156, the majority in Daegu, the country’s fourth-largest city with a population of 2.5 million.

Of the national tally, 111 patients are from Daegu or nearby. Most have been traced to an infected 61-year-old woman known as “Patient 31” who attended services at a branch of the Shincheonji Church in recent weeks.

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