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
"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 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
The study in Dubai, published in June in Communications Biology,
part of the British scientific journal Nature, concluded with a
98.2% detection success rate.
The study used sweat samples and PCR tests from 3,290 people to
compare the dogs detection abilities.
[to top of second column]
Several other countries,
including Finland, the United States and France
have been running their own dog training and
trials of canine detection of COVID-19.
Falasi said the dogs currently carry out around
30-40 tests a day at airports. 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-19 tests," Falasi said proudly.
The dogs are mainly used in airports across the UAE, but are ready
to be used wherever required.
Dubai has received requests from around the world to share knowledge
about how to train dogs to sniff out COVID-19, Dubai Police's Major
Salah Khalifa al-Mazroui said.
Dubai Police also has 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.
(Reporting by Abdelhadi Ramahi; Writing by Lisa Barrington; Editing
by Raissa Kasolowsky)
[© 2021 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2021 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Thompson Reuters is solely responsible for this content