Various apartment complexes in the US are using thermal screening to keep residents safe from the coronavirus. A complex in Stoneham, Massachusetts, is one among many apartment complexes that are using thermal cameras to scan residents and workers for any signs of fever. When a degree has been set, the camera detects anything above the threshold and rings an alarm.

But, according to reports, such pre-emptive actions may have come a tad too late - by at least 100 days. Dr. Carter Mecher, senior medical adviser at the Department of Veterans Affairs, says President Donald Trump took six long weeks to finally take firm action against the outbreak.

Coronavirus cases in the US started surging from mid-February. If precautions like installing thermal cameras in public spaces had been taken back then, the country may not have been pushed into such a dire situation. The US has recorded nearly one and a quarter million confirmed cases with more than 72,000 fatalities so far.

How would have thermal cameras helped?

Ring security camera
Ring

Using thermal screening during the start of the outbreak would have helped in identifying possible infected cases. It would have helped in utilizing the limited number of test kits on people who have better chances of being diagnosed. Authorities would have been able to find more suspected cases related to one infected individual leading to containment of hot-spot areas.

Steve Hammes from One Source Security says Thermal Solution is going to be majorly used in all public gathering spaces like hospitals, factories and schools once the economy reopens. "With this system it can monitor many people at the same time. They can file through and you don't have to stop," he added.

Companies building thermal imaging devices

Thermal body
Thermal body (Representational picture) Reuters

According to THE HOUR, US-based Landing AI that builds artificial intelligence systems for industrial clients, designed camera software that alerts when two people stand closer than six feet. As American companies are eagerly waiting to reopen, they will install security systems like thermal detectors and digital trackers to curb the potential risk of the coronavirus spread.

China, where the virus first surfaced, has also been using thermal imagining eyewear to identify infected COVID-19 individuals. The glasses that are equipped with thermal imaging cameras can measure an individual's temperature from a meter away. The device sends notifications to the staff and makes digital records when it detects someone with fever. The eyewear designed by AI startup Rokid has been supplying the glasses to security bureaus and Hangzhou's highway police since January.