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Dubai dog squad sniffs out Covid from sweat

Falasi said the dogs currently carry out around 30-40 tests a day
The Dubai police trained the cohort, which includes German Shepherds, Labradors, Cocker Spaniels and Border Collies, to recognise the scent of Covid-19 using samples of sweat from people with confirmed infections, collected by holding a swab in an armpit for a few minutes.
The Dubai police trained the cohort, which includes German Shepherds, Labradors, Cocker Spaniels and Border Collies, to recognise the scent of Covid-19 using samples of sweat from people with confirmed infections, collected by holding a swab in an armpit for a few minutes.
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Reuters   |   Dubai   |   Published 20.09.21, 12:23 AM

Police in Dubai have built a special unit of 38 sniffer dogs that can detect Covid-19 from human sweat samples with 92 per cent accuracy, the supervisor of the training programme told Reuters.

The Dubai police trained the cohort, which includes German Shepherds, Labradors, Cocker Spaniels and Border Collies, to recognise the scent of Covid-19 using samples of sweat from people with confirmed infections, collected by holding a swab in an armpit for a few minutes.

“A very small amount of that is then put into a jar — it has the scent of the patient — then we put the sample out for the dog to sniff.… When he gives us a sign, we give him a treat,” said First Lieutenant Nasser al-Falasi of the Dubai police, supervisor of the programme at the K9 training centre in Dubai’s Awir region.

In the centre’s large training hall, police handlers walk the dogs along a row of metal boxes, of which only one contains a positive sample. The dogs sniff the samples and within seconds sit down to signal that they have found something.

Police trainer Fatima al-Jasmi, who is on the Covid-19 detection team, guides an excited-looking black and white Border Collie through the exercises, getting it right every time.

“The training was a bit of a challenge, learning a new skill at an international standard, and then training the dog in that,” she said.

Airports in the UAE were one the first in the world to trial canine Covid-19 detection in 2020. The dogs are no longer used in UAE’s airports, but they are ready to be deployed wherever required.

Falasi said the dogs currently carry out around 30-40 tests a day. Bolt, a black and tan Belgian Malinois, was the first Covid-19 detection dog that he trained. “He goes on assignments often. He has maybe done more than 1,000 Covid tests,” Falasi said.

Dubai has received requests from around the world to share knowledge about how to train dogs to sniff out Covid-19, the Dubai police’s Major Salah Khalifa al-Mazroui said.

The Dubai police also have dogs trained to sniff out drugs and explosives, skills put to use as the emirate of Dubai prepares to open the Dubai Expo2020 world fair exhibition site next month. 



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