• Harrison Jones

Why airport thermal screening won't work

Coronavirus is gripping airlines in a way they never thought possible, and safety checks appear to be the new normal.

In the world of airport security, thermal screening is coming across as the new safety procedure to stop people infected with coronavirus from travelling - There's lots of evidence it won't be sufficient enough to stop coronavirus.



Why airport thermal screening won't work

Thermal screening technology can only really detect symptomatic cases of COVID-19 - That is bad news for airlines, as there might still be thousands of asymptomatic carriers out there freely flying between airports and countries. Thermal screening usually works by scanning the traveller's forehead for a temperature. If the person's temperature exceeds that of 37.8 degrees, then the airport security staff have the authority to turn the traveller away for up to 2 weeks.


Thermal screening alone isn't really effective - That's why airports are offering on-the-spot tests, some take 10 minutes, while others can take 2-3 hours, and require passengers to arrive long before their scheduled check-in time. Once a negative test arrives, only then can the airline be truly sure that the passenger is safe to fly, and does not pose any risk to others in terms of spreading coronavirus.



Why airport thermal screening won't work

Thermal screening is growing in airports, but it is also growing in other areas of the economy, such as in schools, workplaces, shopping malls and other public areas indoors. Again, on its own it won't completely block out coronavirus patients, it is one of many tools that can be used, but it will only provide as a partial deterrent to covid carriers.


The statistics show an average incubation period, otherwise known as the time it takes for the virus to cause the patient to show symptoms (if any), is 5 days. It can be as long as 14 days, and even then, it is predicted that up to a third of coronavirus patients never show symptoms while carrying the virus.





The best brands selling thermal screening equipment at the moment include the likes of Hikvision and Flir. Flir is the world's largest in this industry, and has been adopted by multiple airports and businesses around the world.

Even with global adoption of these products, once travel resumes on a larger scale, it is going to become harder to ensure every single passenger is screened. Multi-detect cameras that can report passenger temperatures can only warn security workers about so many passengers reading high temperatures.


The problem lies in having the required number of staff and temperature screening tools on hand to prevent a bad situation, if one person slips through without being screened and they had the virus, then a new wave of coronavirus could spark up very quickly.


Until a suitable vaccine arrives, it looks like thermal imagery might be an indefinite fixture for airlines, airports, schools and workplaces, as even though it can't detect asymptomatic cases, detecting symptomatic cases still prevents a large number of cases going undetected.



Thank you for reading 'Why airport thermal screening won't work' by IT Block. IT Block is an IT support services provider based in Singapore and a registered Google News source.

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