Is Thermal Thermometer the Most Effective Tool for Checking Potential COVID-19 Patients?

Since its emergence in China’s Wuhan province in late 2019, Coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19 has altered social interaction globally.

The “No mask, no entry” sign posts that greet people at entrances of most institutions, interspersed with hand washing, complimented by checking of temperature before entrance is allowed, has become the order of the day.

Because temperature checks have become a default way to evaluate individuals for COVID-19; they’re even advised in the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a reliable method for employee screenings.

The CDC notes that anyone with a fever equal to or higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit should not be allowed to work or enter a facility.

Of course, a fever has long been the tell-tale sign of any infection, and it’s been reported that 72 percent of coronavirus patients have a fever.

The thermal thermometer, popularly referred to as thermometer gun, is the device used for taking this measurement.

But as to whether this means of determining a potential carrier of the virus at public places, to sanction their entrance or otherwise, is effective or not, is what Fact-check Ghana seeks to clarify in this report.

According to bestlifeonline.com, “research shows this standard health check isn’t as reliable for everyone as you might have thought.”

A research published by the site suggests the temperature checks are so not effective on young lads.

“Beginning in June, coronavirus began to strike a younger demographic, with nearly half of new coronavirus cases in some states spread by people between the ages of 18 and 35. As a result, which symptoms were considered “common” started changing, too. And that includes fewer and fewer having a fever. “Younger people often do come in now, somewhat to our surprise, without fever,” William Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease professor at Vanderbilt University, told WGN9 in July.

Meanwhile, General Secretary of the Ghana Medical Association, Dr. Justice Duffu Yankson, broadens the scope of the device’s “ineffectiveness” beyond the age gap codified on bestlifeonline.

He says that mode of checking people has many lapses that make many carriers of the virus elude its detection.

“We have thermal thermometers at our airports and it’s not that they are not working. They are working, but people passed through without it detecting them,” he said.

He expatiates that, asymptomatic patients who do not show any signs including the fever, the main symptom the device was made for, also have their way to places, where they possibly infect others.

“So if somebody walks to, say a bank, they take the person’s temperature. The person is normal. It does not mean the person doesn’t have the disease. It is just one of the tools, and as far as I am concerned, it is not a very effective tool because until a person has a high temperature, which means the person is showing symptoms, that person would not be picked,” he explained to Fact-checkghana.

He also indicated, one “may be showing some symptoms of Covid-19, but may not have a fever. You may be having fever, but your temperature may not be up to the level you may be identified for further checks.”

Dr. Yankson asserts that “all the problems we [Ghana] had before Covid-19, such as malaria, urine infection which can all give you fever are still there. Now if you have fever and the machine picks you, it doesn’t mean you have Covid. It could be any other infection.”

“These are all limitations or shortfalls that this thermometer gun has. Even though they may give you some indications at certain situations, but like I said, it is not an effective tool for checking Covid-19,” he concluded.

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Supported by STAR Ghana Foundation with funding from UKAID and the European Union

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