As with so many of the theories surrounding Coronavirus, the jury’s out.   There seems to be little scientific consensus on the general use of thermometers to detect Covid19, largely because both scientists and doctors are reluctant to endorse the results unequivocally.

It is true that thermometers can misread.  Plus, people who are in the early incubation stage of the virus will be unlikely to have a temperature.  However, ignoring the opportunity to take temperatures could be stripping us of one of the important tools that could get laboratories, the workplace and the economy back to work.  It may not be a failsafe solution, but just as masks, gloves and hand-sanitiser have been accepted to play a part, so too should thermometers.

There is some anecdotal evidence that we are already behind the curve.  There have been incidents reported in the UK military where members of staff have reported for duty and continued to work with others despite having the symptoms of coughs and colds.  It is only when those symptoms become more serious that the primary patient is relieved of duties and sent for testing.  However, because they have been on site, it is necessary to close that person’s workplace for decontamination, and all personnel are sent home.  Obviously, this has an impact on large number of people, even if tests later reveal that the initial patient was Covid-free.

Using this as an example, would it not be better to test all personnel using an infra-red thermometer as they entered the workplace?  This would mean that anyone running a temperature could be isolated as the rest of the workforce carries on as usual.

Perhaps even more importantly (and with the Government reporting that up to 80% of those testing positive for Covid19 are symptom-free) taking temperatures may also help to identify those who are unaware that they may be spreading the disease.

Taking questions from BBC Radio 5 Live listeners, virologist Dr Chris Smith claimed the best way to measure temperature is to use thermometers designed to read the infrared heat in your ears. He explained how all devices will have a degree of inaccuracy but that even if only one ear registers a higher temperature than the other, the individual is likely to be experiencing a fever. He said: “The bottom line is that temperatures can be variable and it will also depend on how well the thermometer you are using has been calibrated.”

We have practical, forehead-reading infrared thermometers in stock that are quick and simple to use with large, easy to read LCD displays.  They are calibrated to read temperatures within a 0.2°C resolution.

In this and many other ways, we are here to help you run the most efficient laboratory.