Camilla and Matt Hancock hail Covid sniffer dogs

Camilla interacts with a sniffer dog. Credit: PA

The Duchess of Cornwall has said Health Secretary Matt Hancock was left “impressed” by a demonstration of Covid-19 detecting dogs trained by a charity she supports.

Camilla was joined by the politician for the event staged by the Medical Detection Dogs where Labradors, trained to sniff out the virus, were put through their paces in the real-life environment of Paddington station.

The Department of Health has helped to fund the clinical trials, which are being run as a collaboration between the charity and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Durham University.

Asked by reporters whether she thought the Health Secretary’s presence indicated the strength of the Government’s backing for the project, she gave a double thumbs up sign and said: “We hope so, fingers crossed.

“I think they were impressed. How could they not be?”

Matt Hancock (right) at the demonstration. Credit: PA

Six times during the demonstration, Labradors Bob and Basil picked out the person wearing an item of clothing impregnated with the scent of Covid-19 from five volunteers.

In the past, the dogs being trained have shown they can find a Covid sufferer who is not showing symptoms within half a second.

It is hoped in the coming months the animals could be deployed at airports, train stations and sporting venues to assist with the rapid screening of people.

Camilla, who is patron of Medical Detection Dogs, described the dogs as “simply remarkable, so impressive”.

Mr Hancock appeared to record a social media video before leaving and as he held one of the dogs being trained, he said: “These dogs can detect coronavirus in the same way that they could detect drugs, or you can detect other things – and I’ve seen it for myself, absolutely brilliant.”