South Korea’s Prime Minister on Friday said more limits on private gatherings may be needed around the country as authorities reported 1 536 new coronavirus cases.

South Korea was for months a coronavirus success story as it kept outbreaks under control with testing, tracing and social distancing, but the more contagious Delta variant has been fuelling a new wave of infections.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-Kyum asked local governments to standardise gathering limits to less than four people to avoid confusion in the non-metropolitan area, where the cases have been quickly surging, after imposing a semi-lockdown in the greater Seoul area.

“If the number of confirmed cases continues to spiral, I stress that there is no choice but to further limit the number of gatherings after 6 p.m. outside the metropolitan area as well,” Kim told a televised government meeting on Friday.

Total infections across the country of 52 million people now stands at 175 046 cases, and 2 051 deaths have been reported.