CMAC set to train 10 Covid-19 virus sniffing canines

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Officials are training dogs in the detection of Covid-19 at CMAC’s Technical Institute of Mine Action (TIMA) in Kampong Chhnang province. CMAC

The Cambodia Mine Action Centre (CMAC) will train 10 dogs in the detection of Covid-19 in early July after the canines have been taught to be obedient.

CMAC director-general Heng Ratana told The Post on June 23 that experts from the Ministry of Health started to collect samples of the Covid-19 odour on June 22-23 before training the dogs at CMAC’s Technical Institute of Mine Action (TIMA) in Kampong Chhnang province.

He said if the training is successful, CMAC can put the dogs in the field to detect the virus three to four weeks after training. CMAC already has dogs on the job and the necessary equipment is ready and only waiting for inspection to make sure it is safe for the dogs.

According to Ratana, during training, dogs will sniff an odour detector which has inside the Covid-19 odour taken from an infected patient. The odour has to be removed from the patient to avoid transmitting the virus.

“We hope that during inspection if there is no transmission from the device, we will be able to use it in training,” he said.

Currently, CMAC has more than 500 detectors that scientists have developed to absorb the Covid-19 odour. This device will only be provided to the Ministry of Health’s technical experts according to their need because they require speciality storage.

Neither health minister Mam Bun Heng and ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine could be reach for comment on June 23.

Svay Rieng provincial health department director Ke Ratha believes that trained dogs will be able to detect the odour of Covid-19 and it will be a good way to prevent the spread of the disease. But he said testing of people suspected of having Covid-19 will still be required.

Using a sniffer dog on a person infected with Covid-19 will help reduce the number of tests because testing will only be required for those who dogs detect with the virus.

“It is like taking a dog to sniff for mine. If it smells the mine, the technical official will check for the mine at a particular place. If dog sniffs and finds people with the virus, then we will take that individual’s samples for testing,” he said.