Coronavirus fears rise as South Korean service is identified as a ‘superspreading event’

Coronavirus fears rise as South Korean service is identified as a ‘superspreading event’
Source: BBC

A 61-year-old woman has been identified as a “superspreader” after infecting at least 37 people while attending a service at the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony in Daegu, South Korea on February 10.

The woman reportedly refused to be tested for coronavirus, insisting that she hadn’t traveled abroad.

Authorities have described the service as a “superspreading event”.

Daegu Mayor Kwon Young-jin has advised residents of Daegu, South Korea’s fourth largest city with a population of around 2.5 million people, to stay indoors to avoid spreading the virus.

“We are in an unprecedented crisis. We’ve asked [members of the church] to stay at home isolated from their families,” the mayor said, adding that members of the church would be tested for coronavirus.

South Korea now has 156 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with a 63-year-old South Korean man passing from the virus on February 19. His death is the first to be related to the coronavirus in the country.

What is super-spreading?

According to an infectious diseases specialist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre, Leong Hoe Nam, a patient needs to infect at least five to 10 others to be considered a “super spreader.” A “super spreader” could also be an infected person who has a high viral load due to an already poor immune system.

Two super-spreading events occurred in Singapore at the Grand Hyatt Hotel and at the Contamines-Montjoie ski resort in eastern France.  

Experts say that on average, a person who is infected with the coronavirus can pass the virus onto at least two people.