By Alex Trelinski • 22 April 2020 • 15:59
SIX sniffer dogs could be used at UK airports to smell out passengers travelling to and from Spain who may have Covid-19.
The dog idea is a serious option as Britain looks ahead to resuming international flights once lockdown restrictions are eased.
The four-legged trackers are viewed as a quick way of detecting possible coronavirus carriers.
Medical Detection Dogs, was set up in 2008 to harness dogs’ sharp sense of smell to detect human diseases.
They started work last month on training them to detect the coronavirus.
Previous successes have included sniffing out cancer and malaria sufferers.
A group of six dogs at the Detection Centre in Milton Keynes have now been taught to find Covid-19 with the help of experts from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Durham University.
James Logan, from the LSHTM, said that the research so far showed that dogs can smell odours from humans with “extremely high accuracy,” and that detecting Covid-19 in the same way would “revolutionise our response” to the disease.
If the tests continue to be successful, the dogs could be used at airports to identify virus carriers, according to Steve Lindsay from Durham University.
The founder of Medical Detection Dogs, Claire Guest, said that “it only takes half a second for a dog to sniff each person and they would identify who would need to take a test.”
The group of three cocker spaniels, a Labrador, a Labradoodle and a Labrador golden retriever cross could be ready in six to eight weeks for deployment.
A total of £500,000 of funding will be needed though to complete their formal training.
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