Over the last number of months I have received multiple communications regarding the detection of COVID-19 with thermal cameras. The normal question is “can thermography detect COVID-19?” So I want to take the opportunity to put my answer online.
There are NO thermal cameras that can detect COVID-19, this is not possible. Thermal cameras can be used to detect people that may have a fever. I’ll come back to how this can be done a bit later, but for the moment let’s look at the use fever detection to prevent the spread of COVID. It is true that many people with COVID do have a fever, but not every infected person develops a fever, and those that do, certainly do appear to be infectious before they have developed a fever. It is also the case than people can have an elevated body temperature for other reasons. For these reasons, thermal cameras on their own cannot prevent the spread of this terrible infection.
There is an international standard detailing how to screen people for an elevated body temperature, the methodology is long developed and written down in ISO:13154. This specifies what do do, and what not to do. The FDA reviewed this in recent months and concluded pretty much the same thing. In brief;
Fever Cameras “Only Effective” Under These Conditions
“Careful” Setup Needed
Setup must be in Right Environment? ( not facing windows or entrances)
Secondary Confirmation A Must
Remove Hats, Glasses, Hair Obstructions/ Wait 15 Minutes before screening.
Process People One At A Time, No “Mass Fever Screening”
No Distance Recommendation, But Clearly Close
Blackbody Only Required If Manufacturer Recommends
Measurement from tear duct area
I have seen dozens of cameras appearing in various locations, and simply walking past I can recognise the many things that are being done incorrectly. It is not possible to provide any level of prevention with the setups used. I have entered and reentered the buildings multiple times, and have taken active steps to change my body temperature before walking past, and the cameras did not pick up and increase or decrease. These cameras must be faking the results. I know many claim to use “AI”, or “advanced facial recognition and algorithms”. From what I have seen, they are simply fake results.
The image is one of myself with an eye infection. A fever screening camera would have picked me up, even though my temperature increase is not due to COVID.