Abu Dhabi: The Ministry of Interior has confirmed that sniffer dogs are being used to detect suspected cases of COVID-19 at Sharjah and Abu Dhabi airports.
Specialized teams working under the ministry have started to mobilize sniffer dogs as an additional defence line to detect coronavirus cases among passengers. The recent mobilizations were made at Sharjah and Abu Dhabi airports, as well as the Ghwaifat Border Crossing for passengers travelling on land and sea.
“In the border crossings, the use of intensively trained dogs has actually begun to detect samples taken from the armpits of travellers. The samples are then placed in specialised medical devices in an isolated room, and it will only take a few seconds for the sniffer dog to detect suspected cases. There is no direct contact between passengers and sniffer dogs,” said the ministry in a statement.
Lt Col Dr Ahmed Adel Al Maamari, Head of the K9 Security Inspection Department, Sharjah Police, said during the training period, the dogs were trained to sniff out cases after they were made to smell test samples in a special room designated for this purpose.
The announcement comes months after the Ministry of Interior revealed last July that it had completed trials on K9 police dogs in enhancing its preventive and precautionary measures and efforts aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19. The new move will contribute to promoting the community’s safety and security.
Experiments carried out in the UAE 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, and the results are revealed on the spot. K9 police dogs are also used traditionally in securing and monitoring events and sensitive facilities.
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 the detection of suspected COVID-19 cases achieved an accuracy rate of 92 per cent.
The Ministry of Interior said it decided to use dogs given their previous proven capability in dealing with other contagious diseases, such as tuberculosis and malaria, which helped health authorities to stop the spread of diseases. The ministry also held a number of workshops and cooperated with several countries and world experts on theoretical studies and discussions on using dogs in detecting suspected COVID-19 cases.
"Trained detection dogs are known for their extraordinary capabilities and skills that outdo other dogs, and are especially renowned for their strong sense of smell. For this reason, they can be used in police patrols and securing malls, events, airports and other vital facilities" it added.