Indian military drills canine squad to smell out COVID-19

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – The Indian Army is training dogs to find COVID-19 in their ranks by sniffing human sweat and urine, a senior officer said Tuesday.

At a facility in New Delhi, breeds such as cocker spaniels and labradors are trained to identify the disease from the cells of infected people.

Several countries are considering using dogs to identify the coronavirus in airports and other public places. But the military operation marks the first time in India that dogs have been used to detect COVID-19, said Col. Surender Saini, an Army dog ‚Äč‚Äčtrainer.

“Based on the data from the samples that we have tested so far, we can conclude that the ability to detect the disease is greater than 95% in detection dogs,” Saini told Reuters partner ANI.

At least eight dogs have been trained for use in a transit camp in northern India, from where troops move into border areas with high security. Dogs would allow for faster detection of the disease and reduce the need for testing in remote locations.

India has had the second highest number of coronavirus cases in the world after the US, but the daily numbers have been falling since they peaked in September last year.

Letter from Shilpa Jamkhandikar in Mumbai; Adaptation by Giles Elgood