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The rapid rise in SARS cases in the world has prompted many initiatives to reduce the rate of its spread by monitoring people, especially travelers, for some symptoms. Elevated body temperature is one of the easiest symptom to detect. An increased body temperature, or fever, from the "normal" (98.6 °F or 37°C) is often a good clinical indication of possible infection. It results from the body's increased metabolic rate, an automatic response to infection. For information on the relation between SARS and temperature see the FAQ on the SARS page on this site.

There are numerous reports of increased temperature sensor uses in the news and available on the Web. This page is aimed at providing a summary of reports found and the related types of temperature sensors involved. Additionally, since this is primarily an educational web site about temperature sensors, there are links to more details on the different types of sensors where indicated.

Temperatures Sensors and Thermal Imagers In SARS Counter Measures

News & Comments:
(Note: Links indicated are to sources and to more detailed information about temperature sensors)

Channel News Asia -Singapore: June 17, 2003

SARS precautions will not be relaxed soon. Committee head, Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng, reveals dthis as he began initiative to distribute SARS toolkits to homes, starting in Bishan.

The m ore than a million kits, include a digital thermometer and surgical masks.

Channel News Asia -Singapore: June 17, 2003

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has developed anti-SARS measures for international airports. based on guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation.

The measures include screening of incoming and outgoing passengers and airport workers, information for passengers about SARS, and procedures to handle suspect cases.

ICAO will also evaluate and certify the implementation. Changi Airport in Singapore will be the first to be evaluated.

Arab Times Online KUWAIT CITY, June 11

A reliable source was quoted in this web article claiming that the national committee formed to fight SARS plans to increase the medical staff and devices to measure temperature of arriving passengers at the airport to keep up with the expected summer increase in travellers.

Stanford University News Service June 11,2003

Luck has spared USA from SARS epidemic so far, according to Michael Lynn, a visiting fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at a panel sponsored by the Institute for International Studies. He was skeptical of the understanding among Washington policymakers. "They've been congratulating themselves we've done such a fantastic job in this country ... [that] we've done everything right," he said. "I would argue that is exactly the wrong lesson to take from SARS. I think we've been exceptionally lucky [that no one in the United States has died from SARS] and that this will come back to haunt us if we're not careful next fall and winter. If SARS follows the traditional appearance pattern of influenza, I suspect we will see a lot more cases at that time."

Channel News Asia 08 June 2003

Twenty senior officials from Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam visited Singapore on a 3-day study trip to learn from Singapore's experience in dealing with the SARS outbreak. After a stop at Tan Tock Seng Hospital to undergo temperature checks they visited Geylang Polyclinic. The visitors were then briefed by the Health Ministry and the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority on health screening, anti-SARS measures and other strategies used to fight SARS.

News Radio June 09, 2003

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Singapore, has imposed a second level of checks to guard against transfer of SARS after initial border inspections. MOM says that as of Monday, June 9, 2003, employers will have to insure daily temperature checks for all workers in construction worksites, shipyards, factories having more than 25 workers and foreign worker dormitories.

SPRING Singapore on the Web-June 3, 2003.

The SPRING Singapore National Conference on Thermal Imagers for Fever Screening -(Selection, Usage and Testing), program, posted on their Metrology.org.sg Web site has been summarized with hot links to the presentations on our web site on the new page, "SARS-Thermal Imager". The presentations can be directly downloaded by using the links on either site.

Also note that the paper by Jim Sefferin, Director of the Infraspection Institute, given at the meeting, is available as a compressed zip file on the SPRING site, but is also now on the home page of the IR/INFO.org site.

Channel News Asia SINGAPORE: June 6

Malaysia's Secretary-General of Health ,Alias Ali, was shown by Singapore at the Causeway border crossing between Singapore and Malasia along with one of the six expensive thermal imagers in use. He says he has full confidence in the measures taken by Singapore. "I've always had high regard for Singapore and what Singapore has done. When I come here and go out of Singapore, I am very reassured you are still doing a good job and we are very appreciative of that".

Singapore's Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, Tan Guong Ching said: "There'll be no let up in preventing the import or export of SARS, all our temperature taking practices continue. It's the only prudent thing to do because there's still SARS cases reported in the region."

Channel News Asia-Singapore
02 June 2003

Government and private companies continuing anti-SARS measures including thermal imaging screening at government buildings and hotels in addition to airport and border crossings.

ABC-Local-Taipei 1 June 2003,

Taiwan is distributing free thermometers as part of their campaign against SARS.

Officials want everyone to take their temperature twice a day during the ten-day campaign. Ten days is believed to be the incubation period of the virus.

Some local governments are offering prizes for people who finish the 10-day temperature check.

VOA News 1June 2003
China to Improve SARS Detection Measures with agreement with Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam Brunei, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos.

In the past few months, China has screened 12.5 million arriving and departing passengers, sending nearly 400 people to hospitals for observation and finding five confirmed SARS cases.

Channel News Asia-Singapore-Local news 01 June 2003
The more than 900,000 Singapore households to get thermometers, anti-SARS kits next week. Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Dr Lee Boon Yang said,"We will be distributing shortly thermometers to all our homes. By next week or so we'll be starting to distribute to the various constituencies and our grassroots organisations are being mobilised to help us distribute these anti- SARS kits and thermometers and teach the people how to use the thermometers properly."

SPRING Singapore on the Web-May 31, 2003.

SPRING Singapore posts the visual presentations from a May 30th National Conference on Thermal Imagers for Fever Screening -(Selection, Usage and Testing), on their Metrology.org.sg Web site.

Channel News Asia May 30, 2003-Singapore.

Schools in Singapore have implemented a new temperature regime for pupils who are 12 years old and below from May 30th.

SARS: Rome May 26 A NEW INFRARED THERMAL SYSTEM TO SCREEN BODY TEMPERATURES (AGI) An infrared, high resolution system to be installed in airports for screening for fever-related high body temperature has been produced by the Vitrociset group in collaboration with National Instruments and FLIR Systems.

Omega Engineering Will NOT SELL Industrial IR Thermometers for SARS Screening use!

Alert Published on the Omega Engineering Web site includes the following statements that are in concert with the findings published by SPRING Singapore. (see article below)

"All OMEGA's IR devices are intended for scientific, technical and industrial purposes ONLY. They are NOT to be used as a diagnostic tool in relation to the SARS epidemic, since they are NOT designed for, intended to, or capable of measuring human body temperature."

"Please Also Note:
"Equipment sold by OMEGA is not intended to be used, nor shall it be used: (1) as a "Basic Component" under 10 CFR 21 (NRC), used in or with any nuclear installation or activity; or (2) in medical applications or used on humans, or misused in any way."

Note: Omega does not sell Infrared Thermal Imaging Systems.

SPRING Singapore announces a May 30th Conference onNational Conference on 
Thermal Imagers for Fever Screening
- Selection, Usage and Testing
The conference is aimed at providing timely information on the state-of-the-art technology for body temperature measurement and devices, especially thermal imaging systems, and the evaluation of such systems for fever detection, which is essential for SARS screening. It will also provide the users and suppliers an opportunity for exchanging, updating and sharing information on various systems and their applications.

The Conference will be held in the Singapore Sheraton Towers from 9:00am to 5:00pm May 30, 2003.

A on-line registration package is available for download.

Results of Tests Conducted by SPRING Singapore on Thermometers and Thermal Imagers Now Include Thermal Imagers.

SPRING Singapore has tested 3 more types of temperature measuring devices, in addition to the report below in a May 13th Channel News Asia article.
This new report covers contact clinical oral and forehead strip thermometers, (spot) Industrial Infrared Thermometers and five different Temperature-Measuring Thermal Imaging Systems. The conclusions were that the clinical thermometers were adequate while the the Industrial IR thermometers were not.
Four of the five Imaging systems that used a reference of thermal source and detected differences above the reference were found to have adequate sensitivitity and stability to be used for mass screening purposes. Follow up (verification) with another, more precise clinical thermometer is a necessary second step to confirm the results of a screening.

Straits Times Asia- May 25, 2002
Singapore school temperature checks are being refined because some healthy children are being kept away from school because they have higher-than-normal body temperatures. The Health and Education ministries are looking at ways to ensure they can attend classes. Minister of State for Education Ng Eng Hen said yesterday, 'We have to protect the community and, at the same time, ascertain that for this small group, the temperature is normal for them, so they can continue with their classes,'. Apparently a 10-year-old girl had been isolated in class for more than two weeks, because her temperature was consistently around 37.8 °C. Many tests were run and nothing was found wrong with her.

Straits Times Asia- May 25, 2002
The World Health Organisation (WHO), impressed with how Singapore has coped with SARS and its demonstrated expertise, wants The Singapore Republic to become a full member of its global alert and response network.

Although Sars is the main item on the infectious disease map today, an Ebola outbreak is occuring now in The Republic of Congo. It is important that more countries share the workload and expertise in dealing with infectious diseases and the related public health issues.
Under WHO's auspices, Britain provided 11 public-health experts and the USA sent more than 30 to help SARS-stricken countries including Singapore.

Land Instruments International reported on May 21 2003 that they had received orders for 10 Human BODY TEMPERATURE SCREENING IMAGER from the engineering Dept at Singapore's Changi Airport. Recent trials and demonstrations have shown that the special new thermal imaging system developed by Land Instruments gives the most consistent results when checking for elevated temperatures indicating thepossible presence of the deadly SARS virus. Systems have also been sold in Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Taiwan. The Land system includes a blackbody reference source in each image for precision results.

May 21,2003 Unconfirmed reports on CANADA Health trials of three competitive thermal imaging systems at Vancouver International Airport (see brief article two blocks below) tell about accuracy tests conducted on the three different systems using the same Infrared Blackbody calibration source. These comparisons resulted in one system showing calibration bias of 0.1°C, the second of +2.4 °C and another of +4 °C.

Clearly the accuracy of human body temperature screening results must begin with an instrument having a calibration bias less than the desired discrimination of about 0.25 °C. Some amount of equpiment standardization is obviously needed as are standardized testing practices. There is nothing technically new in this area and this example illustrates the need for objective standards development in both the performance and use of Infrared Thermal Imagers like those that exist for ear thermometers.

ChannelNewsAsia May 20, 2003

Israel installs thermal scanners at Tel Aviv international Airport.
"Travellers whose body temperature is over 38 degrees and who arrived from one of the high-risk countries will be subject to further testing. If necessary, the travellers will be taken to hospital," Israel's Health Ministry said in a statement

ChannelNewsAsia -May 19,2002

Singapore sends two thermal scanners to Beijing Capital Airport, ventilators to help China fight SARS. Singapore agencies are working with WHO to provide SARS test kits and training to China.

Sars - 12 May 2003- New Zealand will become the first country outside Hong Kong and Singapore to use an infrared camera to check air travellers for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) on Wednesday.


Mikron Infrared, FLIR Systems and Cantronic thermal imaging systems have been choosen for SARS screening tests that are underway in CANADA, first at Vancouver International Airport and later at Toronto airport. It has been reported previously that one of the systems was selected and the report implied that one company's unit had been purchased. That evidently is not true. We apologise for any reporting error. As far as we know the tests are ongoing. Some data was leaked from the trials and that is reported two blocks above.

Channel News Asia May 13, 2003 "Oral thermometers the most accurate, says Spring Singapore" (SPRING is the National Measurement Laboratory of Singapore.)
"Hospitals still use oral and not ear measurement as their standard as this is the most accurate. Our test results indicate that oral thermomteters whether disposable, digital or liquid-in-glass, have an accuracy of plus or minus 0.1 degrees Celcius."according to Chief Executive, Lee Suan Hiang.

The rest of the article goes on to describe the accuracy of ear thermometers(± 0.2°C) (ear units with broken or dirty covers can skew readings by more than 3 degrees), industrial thermometer (±3 °C), strip thermometers (±1°C), and a new model -- the clinical forehead thermometer (more expensive clinical model than digital ear thermometers but less intrusive and equally accurate.)(refer to the description on our SARSSENSORS page under Exergen Corp)

A Rush of Products Ready (or Not) to Fight SARS? Washington Post-May 10, 2003
A brief article about some of the unusual items being offered to the public to help combat SARS. among them are comments about IR temperature-measuring devices that contain at least a germ of truth. In essence the article states that some governments in Asia have placed infrared detectors at airports to screen for elevated body temperatures as people pass. Sceptically, the article says that such detectors have proven useful as quality monitoring devices in manufacturing, but there is not a lot of evidence that they can reliably distinguish a person carrying a virus.

While that note is literally true, the facts belie the implied scepticism. Such devices, if properly characterized and used can distinguish a person with an elevated surface temperature in a group of people with "normal" temperatures as many of images and claims made by many organizations, are seen on our SARSSENSORs page. Subsequent check for fever with an oral or ear thermometer can settle the question. The real concerns are cases where the screening cameras indicate false negatives, implying that a person with a fever does not have one.

FLIR Systems, Inc. In its ITC Newsletter of May 7,2003, says that "..it has received orders for over 50 cameras for use at airports, hospitals and other locations in Taiwan and Korea. These cameras will be used to help detect fever, a possible precursor to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The cameras can accurately measure temperature and can be programmed to detect body temperature."

There were no details or model and software features and specs described.

The SARS banner from the FLIR web site and in the ITC May 2003 Newsletter

May 9 Singapore Channel News Asia-May 9 Two different thermal scanning sytems are deployed at Changi Airport, bringing to 29 the number of thermal imaging systems in use at Singapore's land, air and sea checkpoints. The scanner used to screen travellers at Changi Airport is jointly developed by Singapore's Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA), and ST Electronics. "This system deployed at the airport does not convert infra red energy into a temperature reading. It captures the raw IR radiation and compares it with a preset raw IR energy level," according to Teo Chee Wah, programme manager, sensor division, DSTA.

The device used to screen ground crew and other staff, is a commercially available radiometric thermal scanner. This is a different device with a wide temperature measurement span from 0 to 1000 °C and may have some measuring errors at the limits.

The other systems in use are not discussed.

Press Release from SARS Contingency Committee (Taiwan-2003/5/9) The DOH May 9th, 2003,
1. Take temperature properly 
Generally, the normal range for body temperature is between 36.5 to 37 °Celsius.  Some daily activities might cause temperature rises.  For example, drinking hot water before taking temperature will lead to higher readings on the thermometer.  After taking exercise, body temperature might rise to 37.5 or 38 °Celsius and some might even appear symptoms similar to heat exhaustion.  Tiredness, insufficient water supply and difficulties in sweating might lead to higher temperatures.
Body temperature might change throughout the day.  Usually a person's temperature is lower in the morning and higher in the evening.  After work, less pressure, low activities of adrenalin and lower room temperature might contribute to a lower body temperature.  
Therefore, when you finish any outdoor activities and come into a room, take a 5-minute rest before taking your temperature.  This will make your temperature reading more accurate.  During the spread of SARS, it is advised to take your temperature twice a day, in the morning and at night.

See the rest of the article for more recommendations.

Sympatico TORONTO (CP) - A debate over the useof infrared scanners at travel sites to screen for possible SARS cases is a hot issue in some quarters. Some health workers dispute their use, officials are ordering units from Singapore for Toronto and at least one study is underway to find a relationship between oral, ear and thermal imager readings.Straits Times.asia1.com Singapore Health Ministry.
Help! My temperature keeps changing!
A compact, informative dialog about how the human body temperature changes during the day and the various reasons why it does. Then, why a fever threshold can be reasonably established based on a temperature reading for oral, armpit and ear temperature readings.
7 May-Kuala Lumpur The Star web site
More scanners used
About 30 new thermal imaging scanners or monitoring for human fever conditions,will be installed by this week at bridges to Singapore and at the airport.
7 May-Singapore-Channel News
Random temperature checks are being done at two land checkpoints where people drive in and out of Singapore (70,000 people cross daily to and from Malaysia). Bus passengers are being screened at bus terminals with thermal scanners.
May 6 London-BBC News-Lancet medical journal
Higher SARS Death Rate
New research, published on the website of The Lancet medical journal,is a detailed study of the spread of the Sars virus in Hong Kong. Despite
The World Health Organization's (WHO) initial estimate of a 5% death rate from the virus. The newly reported study, based on a statistically sound sample of 1,425 cases - puts the death rate at one in five (20%) of those hospitalized.
BBC News - May7-Beijing
China's Sars struggle

China's authorities have introduced rigorous measures to curb the virus. 30,000 Sars investigators have been deployed in the Haidian district of China's capital Beijing. Every home in the 2.2 million people district now has a thermometer and offices and businesses have been ordered to install temperature monitoring equipment.
UK.NEWS.YAHOO.COM-SIngapore, April 30,2003
Students getting thermometers
Singapore students from primary grades one to four, (aged six to nine) got their thermometers on last Wednesday. All members of the country's armed forces were issued thermometers and required to take their temperatures twice daily. It is expected that very Singaporean household -- about 923,000 as of 2000 -- would get thermometers by June
BC News on the Web April 28, 2003 London
Timeline: Sars virus to 28April
A historic look at the rise of SARS from November 2002 to last month with highlighted events
Rome-From Italy Online -May 2, 2003,
The Minister of Health proposed to the Cabinet today a decree to measure the temperature of all passengers on flights considered to be at risk to help prevent the spread of SARS.

Singapore Local News from Channelnews.com May 1, 2003
Two airline passengers were found as SARS-suspect cases through thermal scanning at Changi Airport.

StraightsTimes.asia1.com-April 28, 2003
Thermal scanners and thermometers are among the tools being used at airports across the Far East to screen for possible SARS cases among passengers.
Among the Items:
China is temperature checking all passengers at major airports - Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou or Shenzhen plus issuing medical certificates to those in the clear.
Taiwan is doing temperature checks since April 10 at the Chiang Kai-shek Airport in Taoyuan and the Kaohsiung International Airport Possibly 496 suspected cases have been found among 130,000.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport, plans are under way to install thermal scanners at entry points.
The Philippines is checking all passengers for fever, cold and sore throat.
Tokyo has installed thermal scanners at the international airport at Narita.
Seoul has quarantine officials check temperatures, according to the Korea Herald.
FYI-London Wednesday, April 30, 2003
Toronto SARS warning lifted
Health Minister Anne McLellan said new screening procedures will be implemented soon.
"We're going to put into place two pilot projects, one at (Toronto's) Pearson and Vancouver (airports)," she said.
Health Canada official Dr. Paul Gully said it will take a few weeks to select infrared devices and a while longer to evaluate them.
Looks like increased market for infrared thermal imagers as depicted above and below from some of the world's suppliers.

China Daily- Bejing April 29,2003 Authorities Monday released details of 10 epidemic control measures now in place in Beijing to combat severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Among these are two temperature monitoring controls:
Enhance quarantine measures for travellers by air, train and road.

The Beijing Transportation Commission, Beijing Municipal Health Bureau, Beijing Public Security Bureau, the North China Branch of the Civil Aviation Administration and the Beijing Railway Bureau have organized joint inspection teams for airports, railway stations, long-distance bus terminals and highway checkpoints in Beijing.

Inbound and outbound travellers, as well as those checking in at hotels, are required to fill health declaration forms and have their body temperature taken. Travellers showing symptoms of fever must be sent to the health post and suspected patients will be transferred to the designated hospitals as soon as possible.

Colleges and universities, vocational and technical schools, primary and secondary schools, kindergartens and nurseries in Beijing must make the health of students their top priority.

Educational institutions must strictly implement prevention measures by taking the temperature of students on a daily basis, disinfecting public places such as classrooms, labs, canteens and dorms, cancelling all big lectures and gatherings.

There are several, common types of clinical temperature sensors that can be used to perform the tasks described. Among these are the traditional mercury-in-glass thermometer, the newer digital electronic thermometer and the newest electronic, infrared ear thermometer. In addition a little known infrared thermometer has been developed and is in us in several medical centers and sold for home use by major retailers in the USA. It is known popularly as the forehead thermometer and was developed by Exergen Corporation, a long time maker of industrial infrared thermometers.
The Australian, April 28, 2003In-bound passengers checked three times for SARS Temperatures taken to see if it is above 38C. See above for likely sensor details.

From Hindustan Times-April 28, 2003: Singapore:
To prevent SARS from spreading, the government said it would use state-of-the-art thermal imaging scanners at its border with Malaysia and at the city-state's airport to screen people for signs of the disease.
Passengers who show up on the camera screen as "hot bodies," or with a temperature greater than 37.5 °C (99.5°F), will be pulled aside for further health checks.
"There will now be 100 percent screening for all (outbound) passengers from SARS-affected areas, including Singapore," said Transport Minister Yeo Cheow Tong. Screening for all passengers arriving from SARS-hit countries has already begun.

The credit for the initial thermal scanners was given to Singapore Technologies organization, a systems company with many military specialties.

More likely the thermal imagers are used in a relative mode to detect those who appear significantly hotter, about 0.5 Degree C than the average person.

Most likely the infrared ear thermometer type sensor is being used on screened candidates, since it is quick and generally quite accurate. Some models of ear therometers can repeat to within 0.2°C.

Cathay Pacific Airlines Website
SARS Screening Procedures at Airports (revised and current as of Monday, 28 April 2003)
The information on this page is provided at our best knowledge to be accurate and correct at the time of publication. As the SARS condition evolves, so will the information change rapidly.

Please note that Cathay Pacific states they will not carry a passenger with a fever of 37.5°C or above on any of their flights regardless of local government regulations.

Complete details of regulations now in force at many of Cathy Pacific's destinations are described in some detail. Only one location has a temperature sensor specified by name or type. That is Taipei - TPE (Taiwan), where an ear thermomter is mentioned.
Channel News Asia
SARS spurs need for Indian digital thermometers in Singapore-50,000 already shipped.
Digital fever thermometers are very common and very precise, however they require about a 60 second contact with the body to register accurately. The actual temperature sensor used in most digital fever thermometers is a thermistor.
New Straits Times Online-JOHOR BARU, April 23:
The 125 lorry drivers who transported vegetables and fruitsin Singapore will be quarantined in their homes for 10 days. "..... Johor Health director said district health officials had been alerted to help trace the lorry drivers to serve them the quarantine order. He said each family would be given a thermometer to check their temperatures daily. Health officials will also visit them daily to check on them. "They will be told to immediately contact the nearest hospital if their temperature goes beyond 38 degrees Celcius. In such instances, we will send an ambulance to take them to hospital.""
These could be any type of fever thermometer, the type was not specified in the article.
Hong Kong April 24, 2003
Thermal imaging machines to record body temperature at boundary crossing

Hong Kong and Shenzhen officials agreed to enhance co-operation to more effectively control the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
1. Shenzhen and Hong Kong each will install 15 infrared thermal imaging machines April 26).
2. Each side will screen incoming passengers.
3. By mid-May, each will have installed a further 200 infrared thermal imaging machines to check the temperature of incoming passengers.

It is highly unlikely that this use of thermal imaging scanners is very accurate to measure body temperature but it can be capable of detecting those who appear significantly hotter, about 0.5 degree C or more, than the average person.
Xinhua net.com April 24-Hong Kong
News on IR thermometers in Hong Kong & China to detect/screen travelers against SARS.
See above.
www.SunSpot.net Health & Science News April 21, 2003
SARS temperature scanner
Computer display shows passengers going past a new Infrared Fever Sensing System camera to help screen people with fevers. Thermal imaging sensor technologies unobtrusively measures the temperatures of passengers
A copyrighted thermal image is shown on the linked web page. Specs uncertain.

Thanks for visiting.

The Infraspection Institute for Thermography training.

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