Finland’s Helsinki Airport has enlisted trained dogs to sniff out passengers who may be carrying the coronavirus. Said to be a part of a pilot project, the trial began this week with 16 dogs — that is four dogs per shift. The project follows a study conducted by the University of Helsinki’s Veterinary Faculty which demonstrated that when trained, dogs could ‘smell’ the COVID-19-causing virus with close to 100 per cent accuracy, The Independent reports.
In fact, Finnish airport operator Finavia has said the dogs could detect coronavirus from a much smaller sample — between 10 and 100 molecules, compared to the 1.8 million required in the PCR test.
“The pilot that will be kicked off on 22 September 2020 is unique and a world first. No other airport has attempted to use canine scent detection on such a large scale against COVID-19. This might be an additional step forward on the way to beating COVID-19,” director of Helsinki Airport Ulla Lettijeff, was quoted as saying.
The outlet reports that there will no direct contact between the passengers and the dogs, and instead, travellers will be asked to “swab their skin with a test wipe”. These wipes will then be sniffed by the dogs, and anyone that they identify as carrying the virus, will be directed to a ‘health information point’.
These dogs have been trained by Wise Nose — a Finnish agency that specialises in smell detection — the outlet further reports. Most of these dogs have previous work experience in the scent-detection department.
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