Airport uses dogs to sniff out COVID-infected passengers
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Finland September 25, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – The Scandinavian country of Finland is using dogs which they claim can detect COVID-19 “with almost 100% certainty” to screen passengers arriving at Helsinki’s airport.
According to a press release from Finavia, which is a Finnish airport operator, the coronavirus-sniffing dogs will only be used to detect the virus voluntarily and can deliver results “within 10 seconds.”
“Detecting covid-19 is easy for dogs and results have been encouraging. According to preliminary tests conducted by a research group at the Veterinary Faculty of the University of Helsinki, dogs are able to smell the virus with almost 100% certainty,” says the press release from Finavia.
“They can also identify the virus days before the symptoms have even started. This is something that laboratory tests fail to do.”
The pilot program was launched this past Wednesday and will see those who “voluntarily” agree to a COVID-19 test from a dog take a swab on their necks to produce a sample of sweat. Those agreeing to a test will have no direct contact with dogs.
This sample will then be passed on to a dog via a small opening so the animal can have a smell.
“Service is voluntary and primarily targeted for passengers arriving from abroad,” said the Helsinki Airport on Twitter Wednesday.
A pilot study on scent dogs identifying samples from COVID-19 patients, published in BMC Infectious Diseases in July, found that the dogs achieved an overall average detection rate of about 94 percent.
Reaction to the Helsinki Airport tweet was mixed, with one Twitter user asking why dogs have not been used to detect cancer at airports.
“It took covid-19 to start trials like these - meanwhile, some people have been traveling around NOT KNOWING they had CANCER for years when similar detection trials could've been implemented,” wrote the Twitter user @naudmad.
Should a dog detect the virus in an individual, the person will be “encouraged” to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test, as a test by a dog has not yet been approved by the Finnish government as an official method to detect the virus.
The Finnish COVID-19 airport sniffing canines are trained by Wise Nose. Nose Academy, with four dogs working per shift, and a total of 10 dogs being trained.
The use of dogs to detect disease is not new, as canines are used to detect cancer and other bacterial diseases in many circumstances.
Other nations such as Germany and the United Arab Emirates used dogs to detect the coronavirus at airports.
A trial in Dubai over the summer found that dogs could detect with 91 percent accuracy COVID-19 through people’s sweat samples.
Many airports globally have begun to test arriving passengers for COVID-19.
In June, a US company rolled out ‘health pass’ app to block ‘unhealthy’ users from airports and the workplace.