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DAEGU, KOREA, January 14, 2021 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Man Hee Lee (89), Chairman of Shincheonji Church of Jesus in South Korea, has been found not guilty of violating the Infectious Disease Prevention Act following a COVID-19 outbreak in the church.
Chairman Lee was arrested on July 31st, 2020 after a months-long investigation beginning in February prompted by an isolated COVID-19 outbreak of about 5,000 people in a Daegu church location. Shortly after the outbreak, Korean officials requested lists of the organization's nearly 300,000 members, including those of other church locations, even abroad churches, to use for contact tracing. Investigators claimed that the lists given by Shincheonji church were false and incomplete and charged Lee with interfering with a governmental investigation and violating the Infectious Disease Prevention Act.
The Daegu outbreak occurred in early February when a woman ("Patient 31") who was asymptomatic and unknowingly positive for COVID-19 attended a church service and unintentionally spread the virus. As other members began testing positive, Patient 31 and Shincheonji Church as a whole were often labeled "super-spreaders" of the virus. Some members were persecuted by their families, let go from their jobs or even evicted from their homes. At the time, the Korean government had not recommended to halt in-person gatherings and assured citizens that the virus situation in the country was under control. As soon as Shincheonji officials discovered the positive case, they cancelled all in-person worship services and gatherings and moved all meetings online.
Since that time, Shincheonji has been actively working to help those who are currently suffering with the virus. Many Shincheonji members have taken their previous COVID-19 infection and made it into something to help others. The church hosted three record-breaking convalescent plasma donation drives in 2020 to use antibodies to help others currently sick with the virus. Since September, there have been almost 6,000 plasma donations from Shincheonji members to help develop a vaccine or cure. A video containing the details of the plasma donation can be found here.
Trials are still currently being held for the other Shincheonji leaders involved in the outbreak management earlier this year.
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