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Airports test thermal cameras, sanitation booths and other technologies to mitigate coronavirus

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Airports across the United States and around the world are testing technology like thermal cameras and sanitation booths in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus among travelers and airport screeners, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The number of people traveling by plane has dropped by approximately 96 percent amid the ongoing pandemic, according to multiple reports, leading airlines into an economic downfall.

At Los Angeles International Airport, one of the busiest airports in the country, a COVID-19 recovery task force has entertained the use of thermal cameras, touch-less kiosks and other methods of screening flyers for the virus, the Times reported. 

At the Hong Kong International Airport, airport authorities last month began to test the use of a small booth to take a person’s temperature before a person is allowed to enter the space. There, a process using ultraviolet light and other disinfectants are used for approximately 40 seconds. The system is currently being tested on airport staff, according to the Times.

Thermal cameras developed by Texas-based Infrared Cameras Inc., are also being tested at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., and at Tampa International Airport.

Several U.S. airports are also in talks to test a kiosk that could take a passenger’s temperature as well as respiration and heart rates.

During the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARs) Crisis in 2003, some airports implemented thermal cameras and other technologies to screen passengers.

The technology is able to gauge a passenger’s temperature from approximately seven to 15 feet, the outlet noted. Customers could be denied entry into airport areas and directed to medical professionals to perform an exam and check for other coronavirus symptoms.

Nevertheless, some experts well-versed in the technology warn against relying on thermal cameras to ensure that passengers remain safe during the pandemic. 

While some cameras can detect elevated skin temperatures, that does not necessarily mean that a person has a fever related to a COVID-19 infection. Other reasons for having an elevated body temperature include having a heavier build, being in a hot car or experiencing hot flashes that could result in an alarm from the camera, the Washington Post reported.

A person’s skin temperature is also usually cooler than the temperature inside of their mouths. 

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield also explained last month that as many as 25 percent of people infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic, a finding that poses greater difficulties for airports and airlines seeking to comfort worried travelers as the pandemic continues.  

Tags Airports Coronavirus thermal cameras
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