Dubai Airport First to Deploy Sniffer Dogs to Detect COVID-19

For months, rumor has circulated that specially-trained sniffer dogs might soon fill a need for accurate, efficient COVID-19 screening of airport passengers.

It now appears that the prominent United Arab Emirates (UAE) nation of Dubai has become the first to officially employ the talents of police dogs in curbing the coronavirus’ continued spread—a method that other countries are still in the process of studying and experimenting with.

The detection process, as discovered by One Mile at a Time, is fast, non-invasive and extremely safe.

In cooperation with the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), specialized teams of dogs and their trainers are posted at the nation’s airports to screen any possibly-infected passengers using small scent samples collected through an armpit-swab.

No direct contact occurs between the passenger and the dog, or the handler. Instead, samples are presented to the dog in an isolated room and the canine can generally determine within seconds whether a person has the virus.

“Data and studies showed that detection of presumed Covid-19 cases achieved approximately 92 percent in overall accuracy,” Dubai’s Ministry of Interior (MoI) said in a statement. “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 MoI noted.

Specially-trained detection dogs have already been proven effective and widely utilized for sniffing out other specific illnesses (acquired or infectious) including malaria, tuberculosis, diabetes, cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

“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 MoI said.

As of August 1, Dubai Airports began requiring all passengers traveling through Dubai International (DXB) or Dubai World Central (DWC) to get pre-tested before their departure and carry a certificate attesting to their negative results on COVID-19 PCR test taken up to 96 hours prior to travel. Travelers who come from high-risk areas or displaying any symptoms may also need to be tested again upon arrival.

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