Finland has deployed dogs trained to detect coronavirus at the Nordic country’s main international airport in a measure that will be on trial for four months as an alternative to the ordinary test method that could be cheap and fast to identify infected travelers.

Four dogs of different breeds trained by the Finnish Sniff Detection Association began their work Wednesday at Helsinki airport as part of a government-funded trial.

“It is a promising method. Dogs are very good at smell, “said Anna Hielm-Bjorkman, professor of equine and small animal medicine at the University of Helsinki.

“If it works, it will be an effective method of detection (of coronavirus) for other places,” said the professor, who mentioned hospitals, ports, nursing homes, sports competition venues and cultural events among the possible places where trained dogs could be used.

Although researchers in various countries, such as Australia, Germany, France and the United States, are also studying the ability of dogs to detect the coronavirus, the dog test carried out in Finland is the largest to date.

Hielm-Bjorkman told The Associated Press that Finland is the second country after the United Arab Emirates – and the first in Europe – to use dogs to detect the coronavirus by smell. A similar program was launched during the summer at Dubai International Airport.

Passengers who accept are given a free test under the voluntary program in Helsinki do not have direct physical contact with the dog. They are asked to rub their skin with a towel that is placed in a jar and brought to the dog in a separate cabin. Dogs ET, Kossi, Miina, and Valo were previously trained to detect cancer, diabetes, and other diseases.

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