COVID-19: Why taking temperature in public places is a bad idea

Pakistan coronavirus cases

Should systematic temperature control in public places be applied during deconfinement in order to avoid a resumption of the COVID-19 pandemic despite the application of barrier measures? No, according to the High Council for Public Health France, which considers, in a notice published online, that fever or the absence of fever is not a reliable indicator, and that confirmation of the diagnosis can only be biological.

In Pakistan, the coronavirus screening strategy at the end of confinement is based on testing everyone with symptoms of the infection and contact cases with those around them. For this, the government wants to perform at least 900,000 tests by mid-April. What if this process was accompanied by taking the temperature of each person before entering a facility open to the public?

Some patients are asymptomatic

Bad idea according to a report published online by the High Council for Public Health France. Seized by the Directorate General of Health, it had to assess the relevance of the implementation of access control, by temperature measurement, according to several situations. What are they? The buildings open to the general public including shops, businesses and governments the entry points of the territory (also in airports), places of detention, as the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has announced on Thursday to relax lockdown from 9th May in a phased manner was aimed at helping daily wagers earn their livelihood. The country was facing coronavirus on one hand and hunger from lockdown on the other and a balance was necessary. The government wants to create equilibrium between the life and economic necessities. The people should strictly follow SOPs including wearing masks and social distancing to stop spread the virus.

After analysis of the available data, in particular epidemiological, the HCSP warns against this measure because it considers that this type of control is not reliable and therefore irrelevant. The first reason is that SARS-CoV-2 infection can be asymptomatic, and that fever is not always present in patients.

Private health data

For example, fever (at least 38° C in the morning or 38.3° C in the evening) is often absent or moderate in the elderly, and in those treated with long-term corticosteroids. Added to this is the fact that it can be temporarily lowered by taking antipyretics (panadol), which specifies the HCSP. The Agency also highlights the difficulty of respecting the temperature measurement procedures for the most reliable result possible: away from meals, after an extended rest of 20 minutes. In addition, the latter considers that the reference temperature is the rectal temperature; all the other methods being sources of errors and can only serve as a point of call.

Another argument against this measure is that viral carriage can start up to two days before the onset of the first symptoms. Furthermore, compulsory temperature measurement could have an opposite effect than that desired, by being associated with an increased risk of spreading the virus by making one forget the importance of barrier gestures. Even if on the international level countries resort to this practice, the HCSP questions its merits in France where it can appear as highly intrusive and detrimental to traffic rights in public space. According to the opinion, the temperature measurement is indeed “a personal health data protected with limited access.”

Taking your own temperature is recommended

Finally, the Agency considers that this measure would not be without consequence as regards a risk of “potential stigmatization” within the population: refusal of access, gaze from others, suspicion of concealing the personal risk of contamination, attribution fault on the dissemination or resumption of the coronavirus pandemic. This is why, it concludes on the fact that it would even be necessary to inform the unreliability of this measure for the identification of potential cases. The document recommends, however, recalling the interest for everyone to measure their own temperature in front of any symptom that could evoke a Covid-19 (fever, cough, headache, body aches).

In other words, the report recommends “favoring self-monitoring, spontaneous reporting and consulting a doctor in the event of symptoms suggestive of Covid-19”, as was the case during confinement. Although lockdown is easing, the Agency and Pakistani government always insisting on the concept of individual responsibility and on the importance of respecting social distancing such as physical distance, hand sanitization and wearing mask.

Pakistan coronavirus cases

According to the National Command and Operation Centre, the total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country have mounted to 26,304 after testing 257,247 across the country. However, the death toll from coronavirus on Friday soared to 599.

So far 7,530 patients have recovered from the virus, while 17,713 are still being treated at the hospitals and the quarantine facilities across the country.

Donate plasma

National Institute of Blood Diseases head Dr. Tahir Shamsi has once again appealed to the 7,530 people who have recovered from the novel coronavirus in Pakistan to donate their blood and help save the lives of others who have contracted the virus. In a video message issued on Friday, the blood disease specialist said donors in Karachi can head to the NIBD for donations and those in other cities can approach nearby medical facilities.

“Coronavirus infections and deaths are spiking across the country,” he said. “The greater the donors, the more will be the number of lives saved.”

Dr. Tahir Shamsi was administered the therapy at Civil Hospital, Hyderabad. The hospital MS confirmed that the patient’s health improved after the transfusion of plasma. Before the procedure, the patient was in critical condition and was having trouble breathing after which he was put on a ventilator.


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