It ain’t overOver 40 followers of a church in Seongnam, Gyeonggi, were found infected with the new coronavirus Monday. The number of confirmed infections could increase as some followers could not be contacted. The small Protestant church with more than 130 worshippers held Sunday services on March 1 and 8, when most Korean churches suspended Sunday services or held them online after the massive infections among followers of the Shincheonji church since February.
In fact, a considerable number of small- and mid-sized churches in Korea held services last Sunday. Some megachurches also resumed services after suspending them for a while. Such practices continued even after collective infections already were found in two churches in Busan and Seoul. Catholic churches and Buddhist temples have stopped all of their official activities, including services and sermons, since February.
It is regrettable that the Protestant church in Seongnam continued holding services in the face of a serious danger of infections among believers. Religious freedom should be respected and the government cannot ban religious services. That raises the need for voluntary participation in prevention measures by churches across the country. We urge leaders of our Protestant churches to take this issue seriously. The health of their own believers is at risk.
In the meantime, a nightclub in Seocho District in southern Seoul was crammed with young people last weekend. The club enjoyed a boom because other clubs in the posh neighborhood shut down. In a new type of club allowing customers to dance on the floor, the young generation was sweating close to each other without wearing masks. They may brush off the fear of infection thanks to their age. It is a fact that the new coronavirus seems to go gentle on the young. But they should wear face masks and wash their hands often as recommended by public health authorities.
As roughly two out of 10 infected people do not show any symptoms, people can become silent carriers. Owners of clubs and pubs across the country must take responsible action. Their greed to capitalize on a national crisis could spread the virus further.
This is not the time for the government and ruling party to pat themselves on the back for Korea becoming a model in a global battle against Covid-19. Despite a letup in the spread of the virus, such self-praise leads nowhere. One frivolous remark after another from politicians only encourages people to drop their guard in the war against the virus. It ain’t over till it’s over.