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Dogs work to 'sniff out' COVID-19 at Finland airport

The dogs have been trained to detect the virus from test wipes, the airport said.
Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
TSA K-9 Inspector Shawn Hurley works with Lewie to screen passengers at Miami International Airport on May 3, 2013 in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

HELSINKI, Finland — A new way to detect coronavirus may come with a sniff and a wagging tail. 

The Helsinki Airport in Finland says it has deployed its "COVID-19 dogs" to detect anyone who may have the virus. 

In a tweet, the airport says the dogs have been trained to "sniff-out" the virus from test wipes from a person who has volunteered to be tested. The airport says its primary focus will be on passengers who arrive at the airport from outside the country. 

"The dogs’ sensitive noses are expected to speed up the process of identifying those infected with COVID-19," the airport said in a release.

The airport is basing its program off of preliminary tests from a research group at the Veterinary Faculty of the University of Helsinki. Early results show the dogs "are able to smell the virus with almost 100% certainty," the airport said. The dogs are also able to detect COVID-19 days before symptoms have started, according to the release. 

The dogs are trained by Wise Nose, which co-operates with researchers at several Finnish universities.

According to the airport, passengers who take the COVID-19 dog test won't have direct contact with the pups. Rather, the dog will be conducting its test in a separate booth, sniffing the test wipe provided by the passenger. All tests are anonymous, the airport says.

If the test results in a positive, the passenger will be directed to a health information point maintained by the city of Vantaa, which is located at the airport.

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