Coronavirus-detecting dogs to be used at European airport

Coronavirus-detecting dogs to be used at European airport

More people are traveling again in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic after countries temporarily closed borders and instituted shutdowns.

While airlines have instituted policies to prevent the spread of the virus, such as mandating masks on flights, one airport is employing canines to help sniff out infected would-be travelers.

Finland’s Helsinki airport is training 16 COVID-19 dogs that are to quickly identify asymptomatic and symptomatic travelers who have the virus.

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The scent detection dogs are a part of a pilot program that will supplement coronavirus testing. The program requires legislative approval to become an official method and would provide a quick testing option without the necessity for swab tests or 15-minute waits for results.

A research group at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Helsinki conducted a study that showed trained dogs can smell the virus with nearly 100% accuracy, according to the International Airport Review.

Dogs won’t sniff people directly. Instead, travelers will wipe their skin with a test wipe and put it in a cup. The cups will then be placed in isolated booths for dogs to sniff.

Travelers who test positive will be directed to a health center inside the airport, the International Airport Review reported.

Four dogs will work at a time.

“The pilot that will be kicked off on 22 September 2020 is unique and a world first," said Ulla Lettijeff, director of Helsinki Airport. "No other airport has attempted to use canine scent detection on such a large scale against COVID-19. We are pleased with the city of Vantaa’s initiative. This might be an additional step forward on the way to beating COVID-19.”