Miami Heat played with the public for the first time since the start of the pandemic and used dogs to detect the coronavirus

Miami Heat once again had fans in its stands (USA TODAY Sports)
Miami Heat once again had fans in its stands (USA TODAY Sports)

Fans of Miami Heat were able to see a game of their team live for the first time in a game of the NBA since the pandemic began in March last year, thanks to dogs trained to detect covid-19.

Starting this Thursday’s basketball game with the LA Clippers, those from Florida They will have a live audience again at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, although limited to a maximum of 2,000 people, 10% of the capacity of the place. A “canine team” leads two trained dogs along the line of socially estranged fans before entering the venue, and they make them sniff their hands.

“They use dogs to find drugs, so why not the coronavirus? I think that would prevent many viruses from spreading, “Kayla Roeber, a 25-year-old fan who had just been sniffed, told AFP. If dogs detect the virus, they report it to their trainer by sitting next to the individual.

In that case, according to the Heat’s website, the contaminated person and their companions must leave the line and the group will not be allowed to enter the game. The price of the tickets will be refunded. “They identify you in seconds, dogs are the most efficient mobile detection system,” said Micheal Larkin, vice president of business services for the Global K9 Protection Group, which handles quadrupeds.

Each spectator was sniffed by the dogs (USA TODAY Sports)
Each spectator was sniffed by the dogs (USA TODAY Sports)

“They are animals with an incredible sense of smell,” he explained. “The dog is not thinking ‘oh, I’m going to look for covid-19.’ They are playing thanks to their hunting instinct, which was impressed on them to find this scent and, when they find it, they are rewarded”.

Dogs are an extra precautionary measure against the coronavirus pandemic. The public also kept their distance and the use of masks was mandatory.

In an interview in September, Hielm-Bjorkman, a researcher at the University of Helsinki, had anticipated that these pets could hold the key to early detection. “We know how dogs detect it (by smell), but we still have no idea what they detect”, said. “If we find out, we can train thousands of dogs around the world.”

Scientists in the United States They investigate whether an infected person secretes a chemical that dogs can smell. And a French study published in June found “very high evidence” that the smell of an infected person’s sweat was different in a way that dogs could sense.

The canine team worked at the gate of the stadium (USA TODAY Sports)
The canine team worked at the gate of the stadium (USA TODAY Sports)

For her part, Lenka Vlachova, a dog trainer who works in the Prague fire brigade, explained last week to the AFP agency that the first study that confirmed that dogs are capable of detecting biological tissues attacked by a virus was made in America a decade ago. “The virus modifies human tissue and affects the olfactory mark of people,” he declares. In turn, Hotovy, another Czech trainer, said that the olfactory mark changes “so much that the dogs perceive it immediately.”

Miami Heat is the first NBA team to use this method, which has already been explored at the airports of Santiago de Chile, Dubai and Helsinski. However, its complete reliability remains to be proven.

“It’s such a novelty that we have yet to determine how effective it is and how reliable canines are at detecting these kinds of things,” Douglas Kratt, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, told CNN.


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With information from AFP


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