Detecting Coronavirus Through Thermography

Dr. Syed Farhan Ali Tirmizi, MBBS, MSc – Epidemiologist

Thermography Guidelines

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Thermography quickly identifies higher temperature. Its accuracy is around 32.54°F to 33.8°F (0.3°C to 1°C). On the other hand, the normal body temperature is 37°C (98.6°F), ranging between 36.1°C (97°F) and 37.2°C (99°F).

How to Check Body Temperature Using Thermography

  1. Place the thermograph in areas with:
    • A high influx and constant circulation of employees, such as at entrances and exits
    • Stable room temperature
    • Enough space for employees to line up
  2. Thermography is recommended for medium to large companies wanting to implement several thermography stations to avoid crowding.
  3. Establish average temperature by screening a sample of at least 20 employees.
  4. Maintain at least 6 feet of distance within employees in the line.
  5. Scan each employee in front of the thermograph for two to three seconds.
  6. Have medical personnel detect employees with higher temperature and implement corresponding protocols.
  7. Thermography should be mandatory. Employees refusing to undergo such protocol should not be allowed to enter the premises.

Reminders When Using Thermography

  • Thermography does not measure absolute surface temperature, although its measurement is sufficient to identify subjects with fever.
  • This instrument estimates an average body temperature; hence, it identifies only those with higher than average temperatures.
  • It does not consider thermal variability among people according to their metabolism, age, or sex; thus, it may not detect all cases.
  • It does not emit radiation.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Food and Drug Administration. “Enforcement Policy for Telethermographic Systems During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Public Health Emergency.” FDA.Accessed April 2020
LINK.

Jasti, Nishitha, et al. “Medical Applications of Infrared Thermography: A Narrative Review.” ResearchGate. 2019.
LINK.

Ming-Fu Chiang, et al. “Mass Screening of Suspected Febrile Patients with Remote-sensing Infrared Thermography: Alarm Temperature and Optimal Distance.” J. Formos Med Assoc. 2008, Vol. 107, No 12.

Written By

Dr. Syed Farhan Ali Tirmizi, MBBS, MSc

Epidemiologist

Communicable Disease Control (CDC), Alberta Health Services

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