Airports around the world are being equipped with several devices such as full-body scanners, metal detectors, face-recognition technology and thermal cameras that screen for COVID-19, all in an effort to identify travelers that might be infected with the virus.
Airports overseas and in the US are testing thermal cameras that screen for COVID-19, along with sanitation booths and a plethora of other technologies in the hope of slowing the spread of the virus and reducing the exposure of airport screeners to the disease.
Richard Salisbury, Managing Director and Founder of Thermoteknix Systems, a British company that has developed thermal cameras that screen for COVID-19 commented that these new machines are going to become part of our normal travel system, highlighting that they will be incorporated into our travel patterns.
The current pandemic has caused air travel to decrease by a whopping 95% in the US and airport operators are hoping new screening technologies will boost passenger confidence to fly again.
Justin Erbacci, Chief Executive Officer for Los Angeles World Airports, recently announced the creation of a special coronavirus task force that has started evaluating the use of thermal cameras that screen for COVID-19, touch-less kiosks and other technologies that help in screening passengers for the virus.
Becca Doten, Managing Director of Media Relations for Los Angeles World Airports, mentioned that they have had several vendors reach out to them regarding specific technologies that may be beneficial for the task force.
Thermal cameras that screen for COVID-19, were used to rigorously screen passengers back in 2003 during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) crisis, and during the Ebola outbreak in 2014.
However, the use of thermal cameras that screen for COVID-19, is expected to be much more intense and widespread than other previous outbreaks.
Last month, Hong Kong International Airport began testing booths about the size of an outhouse that use thermal cameras that screen for COVID-19 before the individual is allowed to enter the sealed enclosure.
Inside the outhouse, ultraviolet light and ‘nano needles’ (technology) pierce the cell membrane of bacteria and virus, disinfecting the people who enter, they are also doused with sanitation spray. The process takes approximately 40 seconds and is currently being tested on airport staff.
Hong Kong airport is also deploying autonomous cleaning robots that are equipped with virus-killing ultraviolet light, and apply antimicrobial coatings to surfaces that have been frequently touched, as well as the use of air sanitizers to disinfect passenger areas and toilets.
The advantage of thermal cameras that screen for COVID-19 is that those responsible for screening do not have to stand near or touch passengers. Instead, the camera can be used from a distance. The screen will show thermal images of passengers and their temperatures.