Founder of church at centre of S.Korea's coronavirus outbreak regrets 'great calamity'

GAPYEONG, South Korea, March 2 (Reuters) - The founder of a controversial church at the centre of South Korea's coronavirus outbreak apologised on Monday that one of its members had infected many others, calling the epidemic a "great calamity."

Lee Man-hee, who founded and heads the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, to which most of South Korea's cases have been traced, said at a news conference outside a church facility in Gapyeong, northeast of Seoul, that he was told he tested negative for the virus.

"We did our best but was not able to stop the spread of the virus," Lee said, thanking the government's efforts to fight the outbreak.

(Reporting by Ju-min Park in Gapyeong and Hyonhee Shin and Jack Kim in Seoul; Writing by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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