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What is the Thermal Scanner tool used to detect COVID-19?



cungkring.com: With the spread of the COVID-19 virus, a number of airports installed thermal scanners or body temperature monitors as one of the anticipations to detect any indications of viruses a passenger might carry. Actually, what is thermal scanner? How is its use in healthcare world?

What is thermal scanner?

Thermal scanner or also referred to as thermography is a tool to know the temperature distribution of an object using infrared. This camera tool will detect the temperature by capturing it as a colorful light.

Later, the light beam from the temperature of the object will be captured and shown in different colors. Cooler temperatures are displayed in blue, purple, and green. While warmer temperatures are red, orange, and yellow. It can detect temperatures ranging from-20 °c to 2000 °c and can also capture temperature changes about 0.2 °c.

Thermal scanners use FPA technology (focal plane arrays) as detectors that will receive infrared signals. There are two types of detectors used in the thermal scanner device, which are refrigerated detectors and detectors that do not go through the cooling system.

The difference is that the detector through cooling process with very low temperature has higher sensitivity and resolution. This type Thermal scanner can detect temperature differences as small as 0.1 °c and can reach as far as 300 meters.

Not only in the field of industry and technology, healthcare professionals already utilize thermal scanners for medical diagnostic purposes or clinical trials. The resulting image can help the doctor or researcher in collecting information such as metabolic activity of the body as well as seeing any changes in human body cells.

Use of thermal scanners in the health world

There are many ways to measure human body temperature. One of the most commonly done is using a thermometer. Unfortunately, the thermometer can only show how high the body temperature number is on the skin surface. Therefore, thermal scanners are also used to see the disturbance in the body more thoroughly.

The human body temperature and disease are two elements that are closely related to each other. Skin surface temperature may reflect inflammation of the tissues underneath. Body temperature can also detect any abnormalities in the blood flow that increases or decreases due to clinical problems.

Thermography is often used to detect a number of medical conditions such as arthritis, injuries, muscle aches, and problems related to body circulation.

The ability of thermal scanners in detecting the inflammation itself was also evident in a study conducted by researchers from the University of Eastern Finland. Researchers take the example of patients experiencing inflammation and leg injuries using thermal scanners.

In the results of the research, it is shown that the surface temperature of the skin at the foot of the inflammation has a higher temperature and a darker shade of red is blackish when compared to other areas. This indicates that thermography tools can detect any inflammation in the joints.

Sometimes this tool is used to examine the possibility of cancer such as breast cancer. A thermography examination is done on the idea that when cancer cells multiply, they will need more blood and oxygen to grow. Therefore, if blood flow to the tumor increases, the surrounding temperature will also increase.

The excess, the thermal scanner also does not emit radiation like mammography. Nevertheless, mammography is still the most accurate method for detecting breast cancer. Thermography cannot distinguish the causes of temperature rise, so it is not necessarily a darker coloured area that actually shows a sign of cancer.

Thermography for detecting viral infections

There has been no evidence of research that really suggests that thermal scanners can detect the presence of viruses such as the COVID-19 that spread lately. In fact, the use of the tool itself aims to see the presence of passengers who have above average body temperature. As already known, one of the symptoms experienced by the COVID-19 infected person is a fever.


This plague is not the use of thermal scanners for the screening of first-time passengers. The use of this tool has also increased when the SARS were shot at people traveling while there was a pandemic.

But again the accuracy still has to be researched again. Moreover, the power of the Infra red system is also influenced by the state of the body from humans, the environment, and the tools used.

Detecting fever due to a viral infection can not be decided at the moment. There are three phases when fever occurs. First is the onset stage when the fever starts, the temperature rise has not been significant enough to detect. Second is the time the fever is rising and most easily detected. The third stage is when the temperature subsides, either gradually or suddenly.

The person who passed the thermal test could be in the first phase or the third stage so that they are not categorized as people who are potentially affected by the virus. Moreover, Corona Virus also has an incubation period for 14 days.


Although thermal scanners are not tools that can detect viruses, they are useful for filtering in places like airports and hospitals. The thermal test can help to know some employees or health workers with a poor state of the body in case the transmission of the disease can be reduced early and those who do not pass the screening can immediately rest until Recovered.

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