Coronavirus-sniffing dogs are being used at Helsinki Airport in Finland to detect infected passengers.
A pilot program with ten coronavirus-sniffing canines began work on Wednesday (Sept. 23) to detect infections using travelers’ sweat. The dogs allow the airport to “speed up the process of identifying those infected with COVID-19,” reported ABC News.
Helsinki Airport director Ulla Lettijeff said the pilot program is revolutionizing the way the airport detects infections.
“As far as we know, no other airport has attempted to use canine scent detection on such a large scale against COVID-19,” Lettijeff said.
Each shift will include four dogs that will sniff out infections. Passengers, who agree to participate in the voluntary program, will be asked by airport authorities to wipe their skin to collect sweat placed in a jar and given to the dogs to sniff out for the virus. At no point will dogs directly interact with travelers.
“Covid-19 dogs started their work today at the Helsinki Airport at arrival hall 2B. Dogs have been trained to detect the coronavirus from the test wipes given by the test person. Service is voluntary and primarily targeted for passengers arriving from abroad,” Helsinki Aoport’s Twitter account tweeted.
Covid-19 dogs started their work today at the Helsinki Airport at arrival hall 2B. Dogs have been trained to detect the coronavirus from the test wipes given by the testperson. Service is voluntary and primarily targeted for passengers arriving from abroad. pic.twitter.com/ieMLm0KuZY
— Helsinki Airport (@HelsinkiAirport) September 22, 2020
Susanna Paavilainen, CEO of WiseNose Ry, University of Helsinki’s DogRisk research, said virus-sniffing dogs are mainly for “passengers arriving from outside the country.”
Preliminary tests at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Helsinki concluded the “dogs are able to smell the virus with almost 100% certainty.”
Several studies have shown dogs can be trained to sniff out coronavirus in sweat, saliva, and urine samples. Finland is the only country globally, testing man’s best friend as the first defense line against the virus. The US, Australia, France, and Germany are also conducting tests.
The Transportation Security Administration and US Customs and Border Protection told ABC there are now plans to use dogs for coronavirus detection.