SEOUL, March 16 (Yonhap) -- Another cluster transmission of the new coronavirus has infected 40 followers of a protestant church in Seongnam, just south of Seoul, municipal government said Monday, raising an alarm bell on the steady spread of cluster infections in the capital area.
The city government of Seongnam said 40 members of Grace River Church, including the pastor and his wife, have tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a Sunday service about a week ago.
Six other people who had come into contact with the infected church members have also been confirmed as coronavirus patients, it noted.
The Seongnam church became the second-largest cluster of infections in the capital area after a Seoul insurance call center, which has so far reported 124 infections.
According to Seongnam officials, coronavirus infections of the church's pastor, wife and other members who attended the same service on March 8 have been confirmed over the past week.
The city government made the announcement after testing all of the church's 135 followers, including about 90 who attended the March 8 service.
The Seongnam church case came after several cluster infections have been recently reported across the Seoul metropolitan area amid a steep decline in the number of new COVID-19 cases in South Korea, as well as in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province at the center of the nation's coronavirus outbreak.
South Korea on Monday reported 74 new cases of the coronavirus to total 8,236, marking the second consecutive day the number of new cases has fallen below 100.
Authorities, however, are still on high alert over new clusters of infections, including at a call center in Seoul's Guro district and the country's government complex in the administrative city of Sejong.
A total of 124 cases in Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi Province have been linked to the Guro call center, while the oceans ministry based in the central city of Sejong, around 130 kilometers south of Seoul, has reported 27 confirmed cases.
According to Seoul's metropolitan government, a cluster infection originating from a church and an internet cafe in Dongdaemun Ward has also infected 24 people.
The authorities have urged local churches and other religious organizations to refrain from holding physical worship services, but some of them have failed to heed the request.
Seoul has so far reported a little over 250 confirmed cases, while Gyeonggi Province's coronavirus patients have topped 230.