FIGHT AGAINST VIRUS. Japan International Cooperation Agency chief representative Takema Sakamoto (left) hands over to Department of Health officer-in-charge Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire a thermal packaging system during a donation ceremony at the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City on Friday (Nov. 25, 2022). The PHP3.2 billion worth of aid in the continuing battle against Covid-19 included 600 refrigerated containers, two vehicles with freezers and wing vans. (Courtesy of DOH)

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) received PHP3.2 billion worth of donations and official development assistance projects from the Japanese government on Friday.

The donation included 600 refrigerated containers, two vehicles with freezers, wing vans, thermal packaging system, and webinars on the usage and maintenance of the equipment.

Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, DOH officer in charge, said the equipment would play a vital role in the agency’s continued reinforcement of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) response and other health care services.

“Through this, we can further expand our campaigns in order to reach more vulnerable sectors of the population, contributing to our common goal of ending Covid-19 globally,” she said during the turnover at the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City.

Japanese Minister for Economic Affairs Nihei Daisuke emphasized anew the importance of vaccines.

“This collaboration with JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) on cold chain transport will ensure that vaccines are delivered across the country safely and efficiently while retaining their efficacy,” said Daisuke, who represented Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko.

The initiative is another milestone in JICA’s more than 60 years of contribution to the Philippine health care system, he added.

“Truly, this gesture of solidarity by Japan reflects our common ethos of building global communities and brings us one step closer to our shared aspiration to win the fight against Covid-19," Vergeire said.

The DOH is looking into studies of the benefits of administering a third booster shot of the Covid-19 vaccine, especially for the vulnerable population.

Also on Friday, the DOH said it detected 14 local cases of the “highly transmissible and immune-evasive” Omicron BQ.1 subvariant in the Cordillera, Ilocos, and Central Visayas regions, as well as in Metro Manila.

A total of 17,393 active Covid-19 infections has been logged as of Nov. 24 while 73.6 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated as of November 17. (PNA)