A new breed of Cannes chienne has arrived at the film festival this year, joining the various pampered pooches that are paraded up and down the Croisette and the occasional canine red carpet star (RIP Uggie).
The dogs in question are in town on more serious business, however, as the latest coronavirus-preventative measure being trialed by the French government. Using their remarkable olfactory senses, the dogs can smell if a person has the virus, with their success rate higher than some nasal swabs or saliva tests.
Cannes mayor David Lisnard held a small presentation outside the festival’s testing center yesterday, at which he revealed that the animals will soon be deployed across the town as part of its continued efforts to battle the pandemic.
As reported by France Bleu, the dogs Mystik (female) and Strike (male), which are understood to be short-haired alsatians, have been trained by firefighters in nearby Marseille, and are part of a trial that could eventually see their usage rolled out to events across the country.
They can be trained in just 15 days using sniff handkerchiefs soaked by the disease, placed in jars, according to regional news outlet France3.
“This screening method, whose scientific reliability has been successfully confirmed nationally and internationally, is a real revolution thanks to the time savings it generates,” Lisnard reportedly said (translated from French).
The mayor did not confirm whether they will be used further during the festival.
Using dogs to detect Covid-19 is being trialed all over the world, and some countries have already put them to work. According to the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Covid has a distinctive odor and trained pooches can detect cases with 94.3% sensitivity and up to 92% specificity.
They are also rapid testers, able to process up to 300 people in 30 minutes. Their usage is being considered for large events, such as Cannes, and plane flights.