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Indian army drills dog squad to sniff out COVID-19

Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in New Delhi

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

Breeds such as cocker spaniels and labradors are being trained to detect the disease from the cells of infected people at a facility in New Delhi.

Several countries are considering using dogs to identify the coronavirus at airports and other public spaces. But the military deployment is the first time in India that dogs are being used to detect COVID-19, said Colonel Surender Saini, an army dog trainer.

“Based on the data from the samples which we have tested till now, we can infer the ability to detect the disease is more than 95% among sniffer dogs,” Saini told Reuters partner ANI.

At least eight dogs were being trained to be deployed to a transit camp in northern India, from where troops move to high security border areas. Dogs would allow quicker detection of the disease and reduce the need for tests in remote locations.

India has recorded the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in the world after the United States, but daily numbers have fallen since hitting a peak September last year.

(Writing by Shilpa Jamkhandikar in Mumbai; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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