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Seoul, June 30 : The religious community in South Korea is on alert over the possible further spread of the novel coronavirus as churches and Buddhist temples have emerged as new infection clusters in the country, it was reported on Tuesday.

As of Tuesday, COVID-19 cases traced to a major church in Seoul's southwestern ward of Gwanak reached 31, while those tied to a church in Anyang rose to 23, reports Yonhap News Agency.

Eight people related to a church in Suwon, which has more than 9,000 congregants, tested positive for COVID-19.

Moreover, at least 14 cases linked to Gwangleug Temple in Gwangju were reported.

They are the first coronavirus infections stemming from a Buddhist institution amid the nationwide outbreak in South Korea.

Health authorities are conducting virus tests on some 70 people for potential transmission.

The temple is a small independent organization, not an affiliated temple of a bigger Buddhist order, such as the Jogye Order.

The religious community is concerned that gatherings at churches and temples could be new epicentres of the resurgence of COVID-19.

The United Christian Churches of Korea (UCCK) have launched talks with the health authorities to discuss ways to slow down the spread of the virus at churches, said the Yonhap News Agency report.

But some noted that massive infections will unlikely spread further in churches as the Christian circle has well complied with social distancing guidelines at face-to-face gatherings.

South Korea has so far reported 12,800 COVID-19 cases, with 282 deaths.

 Latest updates on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

-- The story has been published from a wire feed without any modifications to the text

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