Tue | Jan 26, 2021

Letter of the Day | Temperature checks serve no purpose

Published:Tuesday | November 24, 2020 | 12:06 AM


We have been in this COVID-19 pandemic for almost a year now, and many practices that are recommended to try and reduce the spread of the virus between susceptible individuals have become second nature to some of us. The wearing of masks and aggressive but appropriate hand hygiene combined with social distancing are things that spring readily to mind and are strongly encouraged.

One method that has also taken root, however, is probably in need of review. I am referring to the practice of using temperature checks as a screening tool to deny individuals entry to places of worship, businesses, schools, hospitals, and other public facilities. Nowhere has this been shown to be anything but a complete waste of resources as I have yet to see anyone who turned out to be COVID-19 positive identified by this means. I would suggest that no cases have been identified by this method, and as a screening tool, it is completely ineffective in its supposed role. This is when it is used in isolation or in conjunction with the questioning of ‘Do you have a fever, cough, cold or have you travelled in the last 14 days?’

I suggest that individuals who were diagnosed with COVID-19 was because they went to seek healthcare, not at the supermarket entryway. I have seen individuals tasked to check temperature with no clue what a normal or abnormal reading is, improper technique for using the device they are holding, or simply ignoring the reading on the device completely. I have seen individuals, whose time and skill could be far better utilised, standing at an entryway taking temperatures for the entire day.

I encourage us to remain vigilant in the use of proven methods such as handwashing, sanitisation, with approved labelled substances, masks, and limited interaction and more routine testing. Temperature checks at the door, though, I think we need to revisit that one.



Association of Consultant

Physicians of Jamaica