South Korea's capital on Monday ordered the wearing of masks in both indoor and outdoor public places for the first time, as it battles a surge in coronavirus cases centred in the densely populated metropolitan area. Health ministry official Yoon Tae-ho called on people to avoid leaving home and to cancel any unnecessary trips out.

South Korea's coronavirus battle has been complicated by a fight between President Moon Jae-in's administration and the Sarang Jeil Church, the second religious group at the centre of a major cluster in South Korea. The government accuses the church of obstruction by not providing complete lists of its members and spreading fake news. Church members say they are victims of a politically motivated witch-hunt.

Officials fear that South Korea is on the brink of a nationwide pandemic as the number of new cases is increasing in all of its 17 regions.

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