Helsinki Airport Hires Dogs, Not for Security, But for Coronavirus Safety

A study done by the University of Helsinki's Veterinary Faculty suggested that trained dogs can detect Coronavirus with much accuracy

During the Coronavirus pandemic, air travel would be very difficult for many as the threat of getting infected by the virus inside a flight can not be overlooked. But to ensure the health safety of the flight passengers, Helsinki Airport is now transforming a unique idea to reality.

In Finland, Helsinki Airport is hiring a team of dogs, who are trained to sniff out COVID-19, to screen flight passengers. There are several reports which have proved that dogs have the ability to sniff out diseases like cancer and malaria.

The airport is trailing the scheme which will see 10 dogs trained by Wise Nose, a smell detection agency, with four deployed to work per shift. Earlier, a study by the University of Helsinki's Veterinary Faculty suggested that trained dogs can detect novel Coronavirus infection with almost 100 percent accuracy.

Helsinki Airport hiring dogs (Representational picture) Pixabay

Dog's Nose Knows

Finavia, the operator of the Finnish airport said, "We are among the pioneers. As far as we know no other airport has attempted to use canine scent detection on such a large scale against COVID-19. This might be an additional step forward on the way to beating COVID-19."

As per the International Airport Review, these canines need as little as 10 molecules to detect SARS-CoV-2. The current test equipment requires 18,000,000 molecules. While Abbott Labs has a 15-minute test that costs $5 to administer, dogs can detect COVID-19 more or less instantly—also doesn't require an uncomfortable nasal swab.

Helsinki Airport
Helsinki Airport Wikimedia commons

But if you think that you can play with the dogs when they take a sniff, it is not exactly the case. At the airport, the passengers will be instructed to rub their skin with a wipe, and then drop it into a cup. The dogs will sniff this cup inside an isolated booth.

Any passenger who is suspected of having infected by the virus will be directed to the airport's health information area and authorities will make sure that the person's privacy is protected.

The airport authority is panning to employ four dogs first and then expand it to as many as 22 once enough canines complete their training. However, apart from the researchers nursing homes would be the next place where these well-trained dogs can assist the healthcare workers to detect a COVID-19 patient as fast as possible.

This article was first published on September 23, 2020
Related topics : Coronavirus