Dogs are being trained to detect coronavirus in passengers arriving at UK airports.
Canines at the Medical Detection Dogs charity have previously been used to find cancer and malaria.
The organisation’s founder believes the animals could detect Covid-19 in asymptomatic travellers arriving when lockdown measures are relaxed with “flights coming in from other parts of the world”.
Claire Guest told the BBC’s Today programme: “People are coming in and may be asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic those few days when you’ve got the virus and don’t know it.
“A dog is sniffing each person in turn – it takes 0.5 of a second, the dog quickly identifies which people need a test and need to go straight into isolation to prevent the further spread around the UK.”
The charity’s website details the six dogs who are being taught to find Covid-19 with the help of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Durham University.
The group of three working cocker spaniels, a Labrador, a Labradoodle and a Labrador golden retriever cross could be trained in six to eight weeks, but £500,000 funding will be needed to complete the training, Ms Guest said.
She told the BBC: “We know that diseases have got these unique odours, we know how rapidly (dogs are) able to identify them, that’s why they’re used for drugs and explosives.
“It’s exactly the same with a disease,” she added.
Ms Guest told the programme the charity have been in discussions with the Government and said they were “hopeful” about the project.