Due to the rising number of new Covid-19 variants, Cambodia started training virus-sniffing canines. The country hopes that these animals will be able to help restrain the spread of the virus. According to the health ministry, more than 98% of the adult population had their initial doses.
Virus-sniffing canines to detect COVID cases
Cambodia has found a new way to spot COVID cases by training virus-sniffing canines. The team consists of 12 Belgian Malinois dogs trained by the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC). These animals can detect unknowing patients who might be COVID-virus carriers. They will also help in important affairs, such as sports events in the future.
The University of Health Sciences provided volatile organic compound samples from COVID-19 patients. These are organic chemicals that emit odors sent to demining agency’s facility.
“After two and a half months, our dogs are in an early stage of success (so) they could sniff out the scent of COVID-19. In the future, I hope the dogs could take part in preventing or reducing COVID-19 because they are fast,” said dog trainer Khom Sokly.
He added that four dogs can now identify COVID-19 in less than a minute placed in a one-meter tube. The remaining eight virus-sniffing canines are training to track down the scent in an open space elsewhere.
Every year, CMAC Cambodia produces 200 puppies and 15 master dogs. Five to six used for breeding for three to four years to carry on the retirement dogs.
For almost 30 years of civil war since the US bombing in the 1960s, Cambodia is one of the most heavily bombed and mined countries worldwide. The government sees to it that by 2025, it will clear all mines and unexploded bombs. Different organizations working with sniffer dogs, rats, and veteran miners will join the crusade.
Italy and Ecuador also deploy dogs against COVID. An Italian hospital trains canines to identify the virus in human sweat.
Upsurge in COVID cases
Last year, Cambodia was able to avoid a mass outbreak during the pandemic. However, cases skyrocketed from the 20,000 mark in May. It totaled 110,000 cases in late September, with over 2,200 deaths.
It was on March 31 of this year when the country detected the first Delta case. Since then, it grew, and the infection rates continued to snowball.
The vast majority of COVID-19 hospitalizations and casualties involve unvaccinated people. It is where the most significant risk of transmission occurs, affecting more people.
Phnom Penh has the highest number of people infected with the Delta variant. Other regions include Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Oddar Meanchey, and Preah Vihear.
These provinces encountered a wave of Cambodian migrant workers from Thailand. Stung Treng, Tboung Khmum, and Kandal are other provinces with high infection rates as well.
The Delta variant is a more high-risk virus because of its more contagious, according to Dr. Li Ailan. The definite number is hard to verify because they cannot decode every sample. The doctor is Cambodia’s representative to World Health Organization.
The Atlanta-based Centre for Diseases Control (CDC) noted that the Delta variant is more infectious. It leads to an increase of transmissibility than other variants, even in inoculated people. The health protection agency added that it might cause more severe illnesses in people who have no vaccine.