Dubai Airport has deployed dogs that are capable of sniffing out 92 percent of passengers infected with the coronavirus.
The airport has therefore become the first in the world to use canines to spot cases of Covid-19, after training them to detect passengers with the deadly virus within minutes.
In a statement, Dubai’s Ministry of Interior said: “Data and studies showed that detection of presumed Covid-19 cases achieved approximately 92 percent in overall accuracy.
“Figures indicate that dogs can quickly detect infected cases, help protect key sites, effectively deal with huge crowds and secure large events, airports, etc.”
According to reports, samples will be taken from the armpits of passengers travelling into Dubai before the swabs are placed inside containers.
They are then placed inside isolated rooms where specially trained dogs will sniff the samples through funnels. If the animal indicates a trace of coronavirus, the passenger will then have to take the nasal Covid test.
In the UK, a trial launched as part of new research back in May to establish whether dogs could be used as a potential new non-invasive, early warning measure to detect coronavirus in the future – even before symptoms begin.
World-leading researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) carried out the first phase of the trial in collaboration with the charity Medical Detection Dogs and Durham University, backed by £500,000 of government funding.
The trial brings together leading disease control experts from the universities with Medical Detection Dogs, who have already successfully trained dogs to detect the odour of many different diseases in humans, such as cancer, malaria and Parkinson’s disease.
More than ten years of research gathered by Medical Detection Dogs has shown that the dogs, which could each screen up to 250 people per hour, can be trained to detect the odour of disease at the equivalent dilution of one teaspoon of sugar in two Olympic-sized swimming pools of water.
Minister for Innovation Lord Bethell said: “Bio-detection dogs already detect specific cancers and we believe this innovation might provide speedy results as part of our wider testing strategy.
“Accuracy is essential so this trial will tell us whether ‘covid dogs’ can reliably detect the virus and stop it spreading.”
Dr Claire Guest, co-founder and CEO of Medical Detection Dogs, added: “We are delighted that the government has given us the opportunity to demonstrate that dogs can play a role in the fight against Covid-19. They have the potential to help by quickly screening people, which could be vital in the future.”