A preacher who said that Christians were immunized against the coronavirus and then contracted it himself appeared in a Myanmar court Wednesday to face charges for organizing services in defiance of restrictions on large public gatherings .
David Lah, a Burmese Canadian citizen, and another man, Myanmar national Wai Tun, face up to three years in prison under the Disaster Management Act for religious services held in the capital Yangon sales office in early April.
In a sermon published online in late March, Lah told his disciples, “If you hear God’s sermon, the virus will never come to you. I declare it with the soul of Jesus Christ. “
Judge Moe Swe told reporters after the Yangon court hearing that Lah would be detained in Insein prison until June 3 while police continue their investigations.
Lah had previously been taken to hospital and was then quarantined at a hotel. Wai Tun was not present in court.
About twenty people who participated in the rallies in early April were subsequently tested positive for the coronavirus, said an official.
This has led to a group of 67 cases, Thar Tun Kyaw, spokesman for the Myanmar Ministry of Health, told Reuters on Wednesday.
Nearly 5 million people infected
The COVID-19 Yangon Area Control and Emergency Response Committee said in a statement that Lah and two other pastors had held services after the restrictions were introduced on March 13.
The coronavirus has infected nearly five million people worldwide and killed more than 322,000 people. More than half of the coronavirus cases in South Korea at the start of the epidemic were linked to church gatherings.
Myanmar, which has reported 193 cases of virus and six deaths, is a predominantly Buddhist nation but Christians make up around 6% of the population. The country is also known as Burma.