Is Temperature Monitoring Really Effective for COVID 19 in India?
It’s been around 5 months since the first lockdown was announced. Now, the government is eventually easing the lockdown while ensuring the slowdown of the spread of viruses by using modern technologies. Temperature monitoring system has come out to be the best solution to monitor public places concerning authorities in real time.
Lockdown orders are also being relaxed in all states so citizens can get back to their businesses and work but there is still time for everyone to get back to normal life. Temperature monitoring is one of the important measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Thermal cameras or infrared thermometers are being used to check increased temperature in a person who may or may not be infected with the virus. If a person is found with elevated body temperature, the concerned authorities are keeping them away and urging them to get treatment first.
But how much effective temperature monitoring is going to be to prevent the spread of Coronavirus? According to medical experts, it is a precautionary measure but it is just a part of a huge strategy, despite having some limitations. For example, most people are infected with Coronavirus but they are asymptomatic, i.e. no signs of fever or any complications. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims the probation period for symptoms to develop is up to 14 days once a person gets exposed to the virus. It means a temperature check cannot catch the virus if you don’t have fever.
In addition, fever is not the only symptom in every person who is infected with Coronavirus. Disease comes out in different ways. Of course fever is one of the major symptoms. Temperature monitoring can detect some people who are infected with COVID-19, but it is not a foolproof measure. People may take fever medications that can suppress the fever. So, it ultimately changes the reading. Even if a person is carrying COVID-19, he or she can easily pass the temperature reading.
Major Update – Indian Railways deploying AI based Temperature Monitoring to track COVID-19 carriers
The Zonal Railways general managers and their Production Units have been notified by the Ministry of Railways to deploy thermal screening systems at the entrance of all production units and workshops at the whole network which employ thousands of employees and workers.
A neutral telecom service provider, RailTel has said that it is being prepared for social distancing and temperature screening to combat the virus for a long period of time till an effective vaccine is discovered. The temperature screening system will be AI-powered to become intelligent enough to pinpoint only humans with elevated body temperature while avoiding other hot objects like coffee, tea, etc.
According to a senior railway official, RailTel has proposed to install temperature screening systems at all the coach manufacturing units pan India, including Modern Coach Factory in Rae Bareli, Integral Coach Factory (ICF) Chennai, Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala and various workshops, factories, and loco sheds. These facilities have already started working on thermal screening. The company is also planning to extend this facility to the origin of trains where they start and all the major stations on the way. It is vital to track and isolate passengers who are found with high fever and other symptoms.
The government has planned to keep monitoring the body temperature of railway employees, workers and passengers in railway stations to avoid any risk, especially when operations are being restarted. It is very vital to isolate and identify people who are infected with COVID-19 at railway stations.
Temperature monitoring is just a part of tracking a person with increased body temperature which may be because of infection from COVID-19. Using no-contact or no-touch temperature monitoring equipment or thermal scanners can be helpful to measure surface temperature of a person. On the other side, using oral thermometers is very dangerous as it needs physical contact which can spread infection easily. So, it is highly recommended to deploy contactless thermal scanners and temperature monitoring systems at the entrance of every public space where footfall is very high. It’s the time for people to be aware and try to maintain social distancing as much as possible for their own and others’ health.