Miguel Albuquerque said: "We are already working in cooperation with trainers and, obviously, it will be one of the areas that we are developing and that, in the first place, will perhaps be installed at the airport," he said, indicating that the project is still in the testing phase.

"These dogs are equipped with the ability to detect whether the person is a carrier of the virus or not," he explained, admitting that, if the project is successful, the regional government may suspend the obligation to submit a negative PCR test for entry into the region, in force since July 1, 2020.

Miguel Albuquerque stressed that this "new methodology", whose legal framework will be revealed later, has "great reliability".

"They are already using [sniffer dogs] in some countries and we want to do a test here in Madeira," he said, adding: "We are going to do this pilot test. We are not going to generalise, but it is a pilot test that can work. It is something that we want to experiment with".

Miguel Albuquerque said that two dogs could potentially be used in the programme.