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Chilean police train sniffer dogs to detect coronavirus in its early stages

Telegraph, 01 Aug 2020
Chilean police are training sniffer dogs to detect coronavirus in people's sweat at an early stage, after a similar trial in the UK showed encouraging results.

Four dogs have been selected for the initial training - a mix of labradors and golden retrievers that sport green "biodetector" jackets for their task.

They are being trained at the Chilean Carabineros' specialist training base in the capital Santiago.

Sniffer dogs are best known for detecting drugs, explosives and people but have also been trained to detect diseases including malaria, cancer and Parkinson's disease.

Lieutenant Colonel Cristian Acevedo Yanez, director of the police specialty training school, said dogs had more than three million olfactory receptors - more than 50 times those of humans - so were uniquely placed to help fight coronavirus.

He said the canines could play a critical part as Chile seeks to gradually reopen its schools and shops and get people back to work.

The Telegraph reported in May that medical sniffer dogs were being trained to detect asymptomatic coronavirus carriers under a UK Government-backed initiative that could see 250 people screened per hour.

Three cocker spaniels, two labradors and a labradoodle began intensive training at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine using odour samples from Covid-19-positive patients.

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