Airports in The United Arab Emirates (UAE) have become the first in the world to employ the sensory talents of K9 police sniffer dogs to help curb the spread of coronavirus via passengers in its terminals.
In cooperation with the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), specialised teams of K9 police dogs and their trainers are now posted at UAE airports to screen any possible COVID-19 infected passengers using small scent samples collected through an armpit-swab.
How does it work?
As of August 1, Dubai and Abu Dhabi Airports began requiring all passengers travelling through Dubai International (DXB), Dubai World Central (DWC) and Abu Dhabi (AUH) to get pre-tested before their departure and carry a certificate attesting to their negative results on COVID-19 PCR test taken up to 96 hours prior to travel.
The specialised teams from the national team are distributed at the country’s airports to supervise the actual application in monitoring and checking samples taken from those coming to the country from the armpit without direct contact with the dog.
Within seconds, the trained dog can determine the possibility of whether a passenger is infected or not.
No direct contact occurs between the passenger and the dog, or the handler.
Instead, samples are presented to the dog in an isolated room and the pooch can generally determine within seconds whether a person has the virus.
The unique detection process is fast, non-invasive and extremely safe.
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The strategy is considered as an “additional line of defence that enhances the security and safety of passenger at the airport with the gradual return and opening of more international airports and the increasing number of flights.”
“Data and studies showed that detection of presumed Covid-19 cases achieved approximately 92 percent in overall accuracy,” Dubai’s Ministry of Interior (MoI) said in a statement. “Figures indicate that dogs can quickly detect infected cases, help protect key sites, effectively deal with huge crowds and secure large events, airports, etc,” the MoI noted.
Specially-trained detection dogs have already been proven effective and widely utilized for sniffing out other specific illnesses (acquired or infectious) including malaria, tuberculosis, diabetes, cancer and Parkinson’s disease.
“Trained detection dogs are known for their extraordinary capabilities and skills that outdo other dogs, especially their strong sense of smell. For this reason, they can be used in police patrols and securing malls, events, airports and other vital facilities,” the MoI said.
Travellers who come from high-risk areas or displaying any symptoms may also need to be tested again upon arrival.
The UAE is the first country in the world to put this method into action which currently is still under training stage in other countries.
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