Rwanda To Deploy Dogs At Airport For Scent Identification Of COVID-19



Sooner than later, Rwanda will deploy highly trained sniffing dogs at Kigali International Airport (KIA) to facilitate the detection of Covid-infected persons.

The project, run by Rwanda Biomedical Center in conjunction with other institutions including the Rwanda National Police (Canine Unit), will  create a rapid and cost-effective identification of COVID-19 infected patients at the airport.

Rwanda re-opened its international airport on August 1, 2020, since then a total of close to 15000 people have gone through Kigali International Airport (KIA) and underwent a RT-PCR SARS-CoV-2 test upon arrival.

Yet, diagnosis based on RT-PCR is expensive (50-100 USD) and time-consuming (24-48 hours). In view of rapid identification of SARS-CoV-2 infected patients in places where large gatherings occur, this project is informed by the fact that it is paramount to explore other ways and technologies of testing.

The overall goal of this project is rapid screening of SARS-CoV-2 infected asymptomatic and symptomatic patients at KIA, therefore breaking the transmission chain and curbing the COVID-19 pandemic.

The introduction of a Detection Dog Training System (DDTS) is expected to reduce the cost and time of SARS-CoV-2 testing of passengers at KIA.

This project is also supported by the Federal Republic of Germany with the training system.

An MoU was signed on Monday, November 23, between Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana, the Director General of RBC and Germany Ambassador to Rwanda Dr. Thomas Kurz.

In the MoU, Germany is supporting Rwanda RBC’s purchase of a scent machine to train the service dogs in the detection of Covid 19 on the skin. A fine cloth is gently moved over one’s skin and then those cloths are put into the detection machine. The dog will examine them for specific smell of skin particles of a Covid-infected person.

Rwanda has professional trained dogs and RBC will be collaborating with the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover, under Prof. Dr. Holger Volk, PhD, and his team as well as the German military dog school.

In cooperation with the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover, research is being conducted into whether the service dogs of the German Armed Forces are able to identify the novel coronavirus SARS-Schweres Akutes Respiratorisches Syndrom-CoV-2 from the smell of saliva samples.

Measure and activities
1. Acquisition of the DDTS
2. Training of canine dogs on the DDTS for SARS-CoV-2 identification
3. Training of canine dog handlers on the DDTS for SARS-CoV-2 identification

1. Arrival of the DDTS at KIA by December 20th 2020
2. Successful installation of the DDTS at KIA by December 31st 2020
3. Successful training of 10 canine dogs on the DDTS for SARS-CoV-2 identification by January 31st 2021; anticipated diagnostic sensitivity: 85%, specificity: 95%
4. Successful training of 10 canine dog handlers on the DDTS for SARS-CoV-2 identification.

Key actor
Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority
Ministry of Health/Rwanda Biomedical Centre
Rwanda National Police.

Key links for reference


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