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Infrared thermometers for 2021

Where can you go if you doubt the outcome of your Covid-19 screening based on your forehead temperature?

The National Metrology Institute of South Africa, (NMISA) is contracted by the government to maintain South Africa’s National Measurement Standards and ensure they remain internationally equivalent. Reliable measurements for testing is not foremost in the minds of South African citizens. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought the measurement of temperature into our daily lives. Most citizens have had their forehead temperature measured employing a non-contact, infrared thermometer as a preliminary Covid-19 screening intervention.

Clinically speaking, if a person’s core temperature is around 37°C, it would be considered normal and the person healthy and Covid-19 asymptomatic. However, a core temperature measurement result of 38°C or higher, would be considered an indicator of possible Covid-19 infection.

A body infrared thermometer is an optoelectronic instrument that is capable of non-contact infrared temperature measurement when placed at a certain distance from the subject’s body surface. Most of the body infrared thermometers can display the body core temperature inferred from the skin temperature they measure. However, the accuracy of the IR thermometer is significant and what matters.

If the measurement is higher than the person’s actual temperature, there is a risk that time, effort and medical resources will be wasted until the test result comes back negative. These resources could have been better spent on an infected person. Cases of Covid-19 infection could go undetected and a potentially infected person sent back into society where they could infect others.

Infrared thermometers have an optical lens, just like a video camera, but instead of an optical detector on the inside, they have a thermopile which converts the infra-red radiation into electrical energy. The thermopile gets hotter as it absorbs more and more infrared energy. The electrical output can then be translated into the temperature of the object.

Where can you go if you doubt the outcome of your Covid-19 screening based on your forehead temperature?
Kindly visit the NMISA website and social media pages, where we share ample information.


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