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Covid-sniffing dogs trialled at German test concert

The efficacy of coronavirus detection dogs was trialled last Sunday (19 September) at a test show in Hanover.

The German trial was led by the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover (TiHo), which recently published a study that found Coronavirus detection dogs could detect the presence of Covid-19 in people with 94% accuracy, even if they are asymptomatic.

The Hanover study took place at an open-air concert by Fury in the Slaughterhouse at the Gilde Parkbühne with 500 attendees.

As part of the trial, attendees were required to take a PCR test and a rapid antigen test, and provide two arm sweat samples, which were sniffed by several dogs to detect the presence of Covid-19.

“In order to check that the dogs in the on-site entrance situation are able to recognise infected people, we smuggled in inactivated positive samples,” explains Professor Dr Holger Volk from TiHo.

“The result: the dogs have displayed all inactivated positive samples!”

“For this, there were helpers in the admission line who had the samples with them and handed them in. The result: the dogs have displayed all inactivated positive samples! So they did an excellent job,” says Volk says of the interim results, which will be corroborated with results from the PCR tests.

The Fury in the Slaughterhouse concert was the first of four trials to examine whether trained corona detection dogs are suitable for use in everyday situations.

The trials, organised in conjunction with Hannover Concerts, ProEvent Hannover and AWiAS Aviation Services GmbH, are funded by a €1.3 million grant from the Lower Saxony Ministry for Science and Culture.

Sniffer dogs were first used to detect infection in passengers in a trial at Dubai airport and since deployed in airports in Helsinki and Santiago, Chile, as well as more recently by the Miami Heat basketball team in Florida.


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Back to Dance: Pilot project to get Hanover dancing again

Academics, associations and festivals in Lower Saxony are aiming to prove that open-air dance music events may be held safely this summer with a new pilot project, Back to Dance, which begins Friday (18 June).

An initiative of Fuchsbau Festival, SNNTG Festival, local industry associations such as Musikland Niedersachsen, MusikZentrum Hannover and KlubNetz, and Hanover’s Leibniz University, the Back to Dance events will take place over four days (18 June and 2, 3 and 4 July) in four different settings, with scientists from Leibniz University in Hanover and the Hanover Department of Health examining the impact of each format on the risk of infection with Covid-19.

The pilot will look particularly at effects of dancing on the transmission of aerosols, with organisers noting that, for both promoters and fans, dance music events are “simply unthinkable without guests having permission to dance”.

As scientists are testing different formats, masks will be be compulsory for the first event, on 18 June, while alcohol is available for all shows except those on 2 July. All eight events (two each day) will take place in the inner courtyard of MusikZentrum Hannover (pictured). All visitors must be at least 18 years and have produced a negative Covid-19 test within 12 hours of attending the event (even those who are already fully vaccinated against Covid-19).

“We want to show that an event of this kind is possible … under pandemic conditions”

Organisers will make use of Germany’s Corona-Warn-App for contact tracing purposes during and after the shows, which will feature a mix of live DJs and recorded electronic dance music.

Tickets for all eight events cost €5 each, and ticketbuyers may attend more than one.

A statement from Musikland Niedersachsen explains the motivation behind the Back to Dance ‘model project’: “In Lower Saxony, dancing without social distancing and without a mask is still not possible, even though it has been proven that the risk of infection in the open air is minimal and the overall incidence is low. With the model project we want to show, on the one hand, that an event of this kind is possible. On the other hand, we are interested in the factors that influence the organisation and behaviour of visitors under pandemic conditions.”

In the Netherlands, the government was influenced in its recent decision to lift all restrictions by the success of the Back to Live pilot series, which included several dance music shows organised by ID&T. There have been multiple similar pilots in Germany, though the country is still operating under a patchwork of state-by-state restrictions and the majority of its major summer festivals have already been cancelled.


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