Aug. 21 (UPI) -- South Korea police sent more than 200 officers to the church at the epicenter of a major COVID-19 outbreak following resistance from church members.
The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency sent a team of 210 officers at 7:20 p.m. on Friday to conduct a "forced" epidemiological investigation, News 1 reported. The church members may have intentionally submitted an inaccurate list of the followers of Rev. Jun Kwang-hoon, who recently tested positive for COVID-19, according to the report.
The police were sent to the site to seize evidence and to secure a correct list of church members. When no member appeared, the police began their operations at about 8:40 p.m. local time, the report says.
Police actions were described as a "forced investigation" and come after South Korean authorities and the city of Seoul filed a complaint stating Jun and his church were not cooperating with quarantine measures.
The church raid comes a day after police sent a smaller team of 30 officers. The group did not have a warrant and returned without completing investigations after being turned away.
Friday night's raid comes after Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung said on his Facebook page tougher measures are needed to respond to the spread of the coronavirus, Newsis reported.
"Responding to infectious diseases is an urgent and critical matter comparable to war," Lee said.
"This is not about punishment. Rejecting [guidelines] is a violation of the Infectious Diseases Control and Prevention Act, and resistance is also a crime of obstruction."
Lee also said in his statement that he "cannot understand" why a warrant is necessary to conduct search and seizure operations of a group that has broken the law.
"Even at this moment, COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire, and the safety of 13.7 million residents in Gyeonggi Province is under threat," the South Korean politician said.
On Friday South Korea confirmed 324 more cases, bringing the total to 16,670.