President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Monday night extended the lockdown in Metro Manila and nearby provinces until year-end after health experts warned of a fresh surge in coronavirus cases during the holidays.

In a televised speech, the President said the capital region, Batangas, Iloilo City, Tacloban, Lanao Del Sur, Iligan and Davao City would remain under a general community quarantine from Dec. 1 to 31.

His spokesman in a separate statement said Davao Del Norte would also be placed under a general lockdown.

The rest of the country would be under a more relaxed modified general community quarantine.

The President locked down the entire Luzon island in mid-March, suspending work, classes and public transportation to contain the pandemic. The lockdown in most areas have since been eased.

Researchers from the University of the Philippines on Monday warned of a potential surge to half-a-million cases by year-end as more sectors of the economy reopen and as people experience “pandemic fatigue.”

Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III at Monday night’s televised meeting with the President urged the public to continue observing health standards as the holidays draw near.

He also said the agency expects a post-holiday spike in COVID-19 cases.

People should avoid large meetings this holiday and limit celebrations to their own households, Interior Secretary Eduardo M. Año said at the meeting. — Gillian M. Cortez