Why is temperature screening being used?
Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus, finding methods to help slow the spread of the Coronavirus has become essential. This has seen the emergence of temperature checking.
Theoretically, if an individual is infected with Coronavirus, the body’s natural response to the virus would cause a rise in body temperature. If any individual is identified with a body temperature over the normal fluctuation, 37.8°C, there is a strong chance they are carrying the virus.
Once such person has been identified, you are able to advise that person to self-isolate and contact their doctor for further advice. This process therefore helps stop the spread of the virus.
Are Temperature screenings reliable?
There are a few methods of coronavirus temperature screening available:
- Oral digital thermometers
- Ear thermometers
- Non-contact forehead infrared thermometers
The most accurate of the three is the oral digital thermometer. However, they are not always practical for screening large numbers of people due to the method of application. Ear Thermometers are next in reliability; however, they do sometimes have errors especially if the ear is blocked by wax.
Lastly, the least reliable is non-contact forehead infrared thermometers. These are the easiest and most used method for measuring masses of people since the out-break of the virus. Although least reliable out of the three, researchgate.net identifies that they still have high levels of reliability when it comes to screening for fevers:
“The sensitivity and specificity for the non-contact thermometer is 97%. The negative predictive value is 99%, which is especially important to rule out fever and avoid unnecessary laboratory work-up.”
Even though there are some errors with each of the methods above, the advancement of technology means that all three can pose a reliable and effective method to measure temperature and screen individuals for Coronavirus.
How does it help stop the spread of the coronavirus?
The key idea behind using temperature screening to stop the spread of the coronavirus is identification and isolation.
The temperature screening is used to identify any person that is showing signs of a high fever and potentially carrying the Coronavirus.
Once this person is identified they must then return home and self-isolate. By self-isolating they are removing the risk of spreading the virus through touch or water particles.
Are there limitations to Coronavirus temperature screening?
Unfortunately, temperature screening is not a perfect solution to detecting Coronavirus and then stopping the virus’ spread. It does have some limitations.
Not all people that have the Coronavirus display a high temperature. This means that the thermometer will not detect that the individual is infected. This means that some people may still spread the virus when they should be isolating.
Using temperature screening as part of a broader Coronavirus strategy
Temperature screening is a quick and effective method to detect individuals that have a high temperature, consistent for people who have a fever. It does however have limitations, where not all people carrying the COVID-19 virus do not display a temperature.
Therefore, it should be used as a part of a broader strategy, coupled with other preventative methods including wearing face masks and social distancing. But utilising the temperature check, you are giving yourself the best chance of catching any potential threat of Coronavirus.