Finland has deployed coronavirus-sniffing dogs at its main international airport in a four-month trial of an alternative testing method.
Four dogs of different breeds trained by Finland’s Smell Detection Association started working Wednesday at the Helsinki Airport as part of the government-financed trial.
“It’s a very promising method. Dogs are very good at sniffing,” Anna Hielm-Bjorkman, a University of Helsinki professor of equine and small animal medicine, said.
“If it works, it will be a good (coronavirus) screening method at any other places,” she said.
Hielm-Bjorkman told The Associated Press that Finland is the second country after the United Arab Emirates – and the first in Europe – to assign dogs to sniff out the coronavirus.
It takes the dog a mere 10 seconds to sniff the virus samples before it gives the test result by scratching a paw, laying down, barking or otherwise making its conclusion known. The process should be completed within one minute, according to Hielm-Bjorkman.
If the result is positive, the passenger is urged to take a standard polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, coronavirus test, to check the dog’s accuracy.
“The program is costing 300,000 euros ($350,000”, Timo Aronkyto,, the deputy mayor of Vantaa, the capital region city where the airport is located said.
The four sniffer dogs are set to work at the airport in shifts, with two on duty at a time while the other two get a break.
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