Why Are Hospitals and Businesses Using Infrared Thermal Imaging to Detect Coronavirus (Covid-19)?
Updated: Mar 31, 2020
As the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has disrupted our nation and world, searches for methods to test for the virus in people or patients has become vital.
For those that have been following the Covid-19 pandemic, it is known that testing for the virus has been at the very least, a disaster. With complications involving the CDC, FDA, and many labs that are attempting to provide test kits, we are left with a limited amount available to our healthcare industry. Evidence has suggested that covid-19 is highly contagious and an infected person may not show any symptoms for days yet have the ability to pass the virus on.
As some people still need to go to work and have no option but to be in close proximity to others (i.e. healthcare employees, first responders, factory workers, mail delivery services, etc.) the need for a "pre-screen" method has arisen. One of the first symptoms of covid-19 (coronavirus) is a fever. The main choice of "screening" methods has been to test for a fever and though this seems relatively easy, it is dangerous. It puts the tester within close proximity of the potentially infected, it contimates equipment, it takes time which creates lines. The answer that solves these issues Infrared Thermal Imaging.
"Can Thermal Imaging Detect Coronavirus?"
Thermal imaging can't detect the covid-19 (coronavirus) within an infected person but it can detect a fever or elevated body temperatures. To understand why this method of testing is superior to all other methods we must first explain what thermal imaging is and how it works.
Thermal Imaging is the process of creating an image solely by temperature rather than visible light.
An infrared thermal imaging camera can only see heat or temperature. A normal camera can only see light. An infrared camera will assign each pixel of the "picture" a temperature. Each pixel and its temperature is then assigned a color to create the image which you see above.
Now with a basic understanding of how thermal imaging works we will create a scenario to show the benefits of using infrared thermal imaging systems to screen people or patients for Covid-19 (Coronavirus).
A hospital is overwhelmed with patients due to Covid-19 and has all available working staff members on rotation.
The medical staff and hospital teams are exhausted as they work around the clock taking care of the ill.
With little to no availability of on-site test kits, booths are set up outside of the facility to screen the employees and contractors for any signs of Covid-19 (coronavirus) infection before they are able to enter.
These tests generally consist of a few questions regarding symptoms and a temperature check.
Checking the temperature of people or patients requires medical staff to be at risk as they are in close proximity to potentially infected persons. A spread of infection throughout the healthcare employees could be devastating to the hospital and staff.
To reduce the risks of an internal spread we will implement infrared thermal imaging cameras and remove ALL hospital staff from the frontline and remotely control the pre-screen process.
How Do You Use Infrared Thermal Imaging Cameras In The Pre-Screen Process?
Infrared thermal imaging cameras are set up within the pre-screen areas and remotely controlled and monitored from a safe distance.
Signs are set up to instruct traffic on all steps of the pre-screen process.
As the hospital personnel or contractors approach the area to check for elevated body temperatures, they are instructed on where to stand and what direction to face.
The thermal imaging system will relay the images in real-time to qualified personnel in a remote and safe location for analyzing.
Within seconds an accurate decision is made.
Benefits of implementing a Thermal Imaging System In The Pre-Screen Process:
Detect elevated body temperatures with the accuracy of fractions of a degree.
Subjects can be several feet away from the equipment and the data will maintain its accuracy.
Remote operation allows the data to instantly be analyzed without hospital staff ever being near a potentially infected person.
A high resolution thermal image of the subject will show the exact areas of elevated temperatures allowing a trained and knowledgeable person to rule out false readings.
Instant results gives the ability to screen several people relatively quickly.
Data can be collected and saved in a radiometric form by the single push of a button that could prove useful in future medical studies as well as provide the ability to go back and review subjects from previous screenings.
Now I know what you're thinking. "Couldn't the handheld laser thermometer you point at your piece of meat on the grill do the same thing?"
The answer is No.
These laser thermometers rely on a closer working distance and without getting too technical, they do not rival the accuracy of true infrared thermal imaging cameras.
The other downside is that the handheld thermometer will only give you a digital temperature readout of the exact spot the laser beam is directed to. The thermal imager will give you a detailed image of the entire focused area within the field of view allowing health experts to make more accurate decisions.
The major downside to any form of pre-screening is that it is possible to carry this virus and be contagious without showing any signs for days. Without easily accessible on-site testing, the spread is inevitable, though we can do our best to curb that by following instructions and reducing our interactions with others.
@InfraredThermalImaging provides the ability to accurately detect fevers or elevated body temperatures from a remote location. In the event of pre-screening employees or patients for @Coronavirus (Covid-19), it may be our best chance to eliminate the transfer of the virus.
Though it is only one small step in this long race, it is a step in a positive direction which is all we can do.
During these strange and scary times, please remember to be safe, use common sense, do your part in helping any way you can and try to stay positive. But among all, remember to be kind to one another.
President of ITI Inc.