S.Korea reports over 200 new COVID-19 cases for third straight day

SEOUL, Nov 16 (Reuters) - South Korea reported more than 200 new coronavirus cases for the third consecutive day on Monday, as the government mulls tightening social distancing to curb persistent outbreaks from offices, medical facilities and small gatherings.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) posted 223 cases as of Sunday midnight, marking the eighth straight day of triple-digit increases and the highest since early September.

Health authorities warned of re-strengthening distancing curbs which were relaxed about a month ago to the lowest levels, as small cluster infections continue to break out while the pandemic is raging around the globe.

“We are at a critical crossroads where we might have to readjust distancing,” Health Minister Park Neung-hoo told a meeting. “The COVID-19 spread is posing a grave crisis.”

Of the new cases, 193 were locally transmitted and 30 imported. More than 66% of the domestic infections were from the densely populated greater Seoul area, according to the KDCA.

The daily tally brought the country’s total infections to 28,769, with 494 deaths.

President Moon Jae-in urged authorities and local governments on Saturday to step up supervision of safety measures, a day after revised guidelines took effect to allow fining people who fail to wear masks in public. (Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Michael Perry)