Coronavirus: UAE uses K9 sniffer dogs to detect COVID-19 patients

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Ministry of Interior officers in the United Arab Emirates have successfully completed trials involving the use of K9 police sniffer dogs in detecting COVID-19 patients as part of preventive and precautionary measures aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus.

The use of sniffer dogs comes after successful completion of practical experiments and scientific studies which authorities hope to use in the UAE, especially at its airports and ports.

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Experiments done in the UAE have relied on high speed sampling from the armpits of presumed cases.
“Samples are then sniffed out by the dogs without coming in contact with the persons, while results become known on the spot. K9 police dogs are also used traditionally in securing and monitoring events and sensitive facilities,” the Ministry of Interior said in a statement.

One of the police sniffer dogs trained in the UAE to detect COVID-19. (WAM)
One of the police sniffer dogs trained in the UAE to detect COVID-19. (WAM)

“It is recorded that the UAE has completed the stage of field experimentation with precedence over a number of countries that are still in advanced stages of studying the extent of the applicability of this innovative scientific practice,” it added.

Field experiments included a number of vital and health sites in cooperation with the UAE police general commanders, the Ministry of Health and Community Development, Federal Customs Authority, Departments of Customs in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Dubai Health Authorities, and the Ministry of Interior.

“Data and studies showed that detection of presumed COVID-19 cases achieved approximately 92 percent in overall accuracy,” the Ministry of Interior further added.

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Experiments were conducted at field hospitals on volunteers in a number of areas in the UAE. After taking the necessary precautionary measures to protect both K9 police dogs and their trainers, experiments were based on two methods; the first direct method involves the dog’s routine detection work, while the second indirect method is carried out when the dog sniffs out a sample odor of the presumed case. “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 ministry noted.

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The Ministry of Interior and its partners decided to use dogs given their previous proven capability in dealing with other contagious diseases, such as tuberculosis and malaria, thus helping authorities to stop the spread of pandemics. The Ministry also held a number of brainstorming workshops and cooperated with several countries and world experts on theoretical studies and discussions on using dogs in detecting presumed Covid-19 cases.

“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 interior ministry said.

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