Concerns arise over use of thermal guns to detect COVID-19 asymptomatic patients

Concerns arise over use of thermal guns to detect COVID-19 asymptomatic patients
FILE PHOTO - A security guard uses a thermal scanner to check a woman's temperature as she enters the Tejuoso shopping complex at the Yaba market, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Lagos, Nigeria March 23, 2020. REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja

Questions over the efficiency of thermal guns continue to emerge amid increasing community transmission of the novel coronavirus.

90% of infections in the country are asymptomatic, which means that a majority will have normal body temperatures but may still be super spreaders.

Over the past 5 months, thermo-guns have become critical gadgets and a last line of defense to access public installations, supermarkets, government ministries and parastatals, houses of worship and corporate entities all of them testing body temperature before one is allowed access.

Fever is one of the main symptoms of the contagious novel coronavirus. However, the efficacy of the temperature guns is in doubt given that 90% of Kenyans are asymptomatic and tend to show no signs of the virus, often exhibiting temperature levels considered normal.

Health authorities however insist that thermo-guns still have considerable utility especially in key installations.

“It is true that sometimes thermo-guns may not pick out a positive case…However we cannot overrule the use of thermo-guns especially in areas where there are critical cases of COVID-19,” said Health CAS Dr. Mercy Mwangangi.

Dr. Hussein Salim, HOD Department Healthcare at MOH, on his par said, “They actually measure the surface temperature…it is subject to be affected by environmental factors like when it is a sunny day.”

The Ministry of Health also expressed concern at the decline in the number of Kenyans seeking medical attention since the pandemic was confirmed in the country.

The number of surgeries have significantly dropped with more Kenyans opting to keep away from hospital.

The ministry is now urging Kenyans to seek help especially with urgent surgery as the COVID-19 test would not be necessary on condition of safety measures being adopted.

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Story By Elphas Lagat
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