Body temperature scanners ‘unreliable for detecting Covid-19’

Scientists found that readings from a person’s fingertip and eye provide a more reliable reading to help identify those with a fever.

Body temperature scanners ‘unreliable for detecting Covid-19’

Body temperature scanners provide a large number of false negative results, allowing people with Covid-19 to pass through undetected, according to a new study.

Scientists from the University of Portsmouth have found that readings from a person’s fingertip and eye provide a more reliable reading to help identify those with a fever.

Body scanners are widely used at airports, hospitals and other locations in a bid to identify those with a high temperature, a key symptom of coronavirus.

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Researchers suggest that taking temperature measurements from the finger and the eye is a more reliable method of detecting a fever (Barrington Coombs/PA)

The study, published in Experimental Physiology, found that temperature alone is not a good indicator of the virus as not everyone has a fever and many people only develop one after admission to hospital.

It also found that a high temperature does not necessarily indicate Covid-19 infection and measuring skin temperature does not give an accurate reading of deep body temperature which becomes raised in a fever.

The researchers suggest that taking two temperature measurements – one from the finger, the other from the eye – is likely to be a better and more reliable indicator of a fever-induced increase in deep body temperature.

“Too many factors make the measurement of a skin temperature a poor surrogate for deep body temperature – skin temperature can change independently of deep body temperature for lots of reasons.

“Even if such a single measure did reflect deep body temperature reliably, other things, such as exercise, can raise deep body temperature.

“The pandemic has had a devastating global effect on all aspects of our lives, and, unfortunately, it’s unlikely to be the last pandemic we face. It’s critical we develop a method of gauging if an individual has a fever that’s accurate and fast.”

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