For the first time in Romania, passengers landing at Nagyszeben/Sibiu airport will have to go through a COVID-19 sniffer-dog check. The program trial was announced by the Minister of Internal Affairs Lucian Bode.
The new type of COVID-19 test won’t be final, however. When the dog marks a passenger as infected, a new protocol is activated: The person is invited to undergo a quick test. If the test is positive, the safety measures of an international airport apply. If not, the passenger can continue his or her trip.
The dogs were trained at the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ training school located in Nagyszeben. Five out of six COVID-19 sniffer dogs will begin their patrol in about two weeks at the Nagyszeben airport for a yet unknown timeframe. During the press conference announcing the trial program, the minister said he would suggest that the National Committee for Emergency Situations (CNSU) proceed with a 60-day trial.
With more than 300 million scent receptors – compared to five million in humans – dogs have been used to identify drugs, weapons, explosives and dead bodies. But this is the first time they have been used to identify a viral disease in humans. With this trial program, Romania joins other countries such as the Czech Republic, the UK, Mexico and the US.
If the trial program is successful, the presence of COVID-19 sniffer dogs will be extended to other Romanian airports.
Title image: COVID-19 sniffer dog training at the Victor Babeș Hospital in Temesvár/Timișoara. Image source: Screen capture from the hospital’s video