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Customs will not use Covid sniffer dogs

The government said there wasn't enough evidence that canines could detect the virus, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

Koronakoira lentokentällä.
Finnish researchers have trained sniffer dogs to seek out coronavirus. Image: Matti Myller / Yle

Finnish Customs said it won’t employ specially trained sniffer dogs at border points after the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health said there was not enough evidence to support the canines' ability to detect the virus, reports Helsingin Sanomat.

Plans had been in the works for the dogs to sniff out potentially Covid-infected travellers passing through border checkpoints. However, officials at the ministry said there was not sufficient evidence to indicate that dogs could detect coronavirus, despite previous studies suggesting that canines could identify the virus quickly.

In May of 2020, Finnish Customs decided to start training Covid sniffer dogs in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. Last November Customs started training two dogs, each with their own instructor.

A pilot project involving Covid sniffer dogs, trained by Finland’s Smell Detection Association (Wise Nose), took place at Helsinki Airport at the end of last year. Dogs Kössi, Miina, E.T. and Valo later received the Finnish Kennel Club's Special Hero Dog Award for their work at Finland's busiest airport.

Scent detection company Nose Academy's sniffer dogs are meanwhile set to continue screening passengers at Helsinki Airport in cooperation with the City of Vantaa and Helsinki University until June, according to HS.

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