UAE: Sniffer Dogs to the Rescue!

Sniffer dogs are now being used to detect cases of Covid-19 among travellers at multiple UAE entry points, authorities have reported. The Ministry of the Interior (MoI) has confirmed that K9 dogs have been deployed at the airports of Abu Dhabi and Sharjah and at the Ghuwaifat border crossing. Using tiny scent samples obtained by an armpit swab, the police dogs search for potentially infectious passengers.

There will be no direct interaction with a passenger, a dog or its handler, the ministry said. Instead, in advanced medical kits put in an enclosed room, samples are introduced to the dog and the canine will normally decide “in seconds” whether a human has the virus. As airports open up and more regular flights land in the region, authorities said the initiative is a “additional protection measure” to improve security.

Captain Hamad Mubarak Al Azizi, Director of the Security Inspection Department (K9) of the Abu Dhabi Police General Command, said: “As part of the country’s ongoing efforts to implement precautionary measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, practical methods of using police dogs at Abu Dhabi International Airport have been applied in accordance with the best approved health standards.” Lieutenant Muhammad Saeed Al Hamoudi, the Al Ghuwaifat border K9 team supervisor, said the swap samples were taken from passengers in an isolated room.

This is done in cooperation with the Health and Prevention Ministry. Earlier, the Sharjah Police had confirmed the use of sniffer dogs at Sharjah International Airport. Lieutenant-Colonel Dr Ahmed Adel Al Maamari, Head of the K9 Security Inspection Department, Sharjah Police, said the dogs were trained to sniff out cases in a “special room designated for this reason” after they were made to detect test samples. In July, authorities announced that the UAE is “considered to be the first country in the world” to put into action the method of using dogs to detect Covid-19 cases among passengers.

The MoI had previously announced that it had completed trials on K9 dogs that could be used to help curb Covid-19 ‘s spread. In the tests, samples from the armpits of presumed Covid-19 cases were used and the dogs were made to sniff out instances. On the spot, the results were swift and announced. Trial results and studies showed an average detection accuracy of approximately 92 per cent. Despite their demonstrated ability to cope with other infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria, the ministry agreed to use dogs.

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