Canberra Airport leads way with COVID-19 temperature screening technology

Ian Bushnell 8 May 2020 31
Temperature screening

An operator focuses on a subject during the security check at Canberra Airport departures. Photos: Region Media.

Canberra Airport has become the first in the country to install temperature screening technology in its departure terminal, a COVID-19 measure that doctors hope is taken up by other transport terminals as an extra way to rein in the virus.

The technology, first developed by electronic security firm EOS Australia for use in schools around the world, measures all human forehead temperatures then converts it to a body temperature.

Mounted thermal cameras have been installed at the security check and readings are taken as passengers pass through.

If it shows an elevated temperature, above 37.8 degrees Celcius, the passenger will be directed to a nurse who will be able to confirm the reading with an ear thermometer. A questionnaire will help indicate whether the passenger may have been exposed to COVID-19.

If it appears there is a risk, airlines will be advised so they can decide whether the passenger can travel or not.

The nurse will also be able to guide passengers to the relevant health authorities.

Mounted camera

The mounted camera that scans passengers as they pass through security.

Canberra Airport Head of Aviation Michael Thomson said the voluntary system was designed to ensure everyone felt safe at the airport and about flying.

”It’s all about ensuring everyone has a good idea of what condition they are in when they fly,” he said.

”If you are unwell we would recommend you don’t fly.”

Mr Thompson said at this stage the airport would only deploy the technology at departures but hoped other airports would also use it to minimise the movement of people carrying COVID-19

”We think other airports may take a look at this lead and see if they can institute it at departures as well, which will mean arrivals into Canberra are already tested,” he said.

Canberra Airport Head of Aviation Michael Thomson

Canberra Airport Head of Aviation Michael Thomson: ”It’s all about ensuring everyone has a good idea of what condition they are in when they fly.”

ACT AMA president Dr Antonio Di Dio said doctors welcomed the innovation.

”We thank the owners of Canberra Airport for this action which we think is responsible and prudent, but also shows leadership in how we can minimise and mitigate risks for all travellers to and from Canberra,” he said.

”The idea is good, the technology we are told is sound and the implementation likely to be very effective.”

Dr Di Dio hoped other airports would copy the measure because when the second COVID-19 wave comes it will be most likely stimulated from someone catching it outside the ACT, ”so measures like this are absolutely crucial”, he said.

Mr Thomson said any decision to stop someone travelling was a matter for the airlines but he said airlines would now have a far better understanding of the potential danger of someone getting on to a plane feeling unwell.

He said the measure was likely to become a permanent feature of the security process, because restrictions, particularly for international travel, were likely to be ongoing for years.

ACT AMA president Dr Antonio Di Dio

ACT AMA president Dr Antonio Di Dio: ”Measures like this are absolutely crucial.”

The airport was picking up the tab for the technology, the cost of which Mr Thomson said was ”not insignificant”.

The technology had been trialled to ensure accuracy and the airlines were very supportive, he said.

For those concerned about privacy, images will be destroyed after a certain period of time and no personal information will be collected, nor will police or any other authority have access to the data.

EOS Director, Technology & Sales, Andrew Cho said the airport was using the latest version of the technology, which had a very high accuracy level.

He said it was the first time it had been used in an Australian airport but ”even prior to COVID-19 the technology has been used in Asian countries to monitor students coming through the gate and detecting a fever”.

Canberra Airport remains open as small number of flights in and out of the national capital continue to operate for essential travel.

Temperature testing

If an elevated reading is detected, it will be confirmed by a nurse using a thermometer.

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31 Responses to Canberra Airport leads way with COVID-19 temperature screening technology
Eddie Majcic Eddie Majcic 10:28 pm 05 May 20

If international travel is to resume. Screening like this needs to happen on departure. Just as you're going through security.

Tracey Smith Collins Tracey Smith Collins 5:05 pm 05 May 20

Funny how theses things called temperature only do the air between the body an the machine , hmm starting work at 6 am I hav had readings I am dead lol


Julia Ross Julia Ross 11:37 am 05 May 20

I would've thought the arrivals terminal would have been more effective.

Barry Finch Barry Finch 11:37 pm 04 May 20

I hope this technology is introduced into arrivals as well. Especially if we reopen our airports to overseas travellers from 🇳🇿 New Zealand and progressively other overseas nations.

Jay Annabel Jay Annabel 11:01 pm 04 May 20

do we still have flights?

Julia Nesbitt Julia Nesbitt 10:59 pm 04 May 20

OOOH. getting ready for when we can travel again?

Mac Ka Mac Ka 10:46 pm 04 May 20

I'd rather take a fast train like the ones we used in Italy and China. They were so much fun and there was none of the waiting...waiting... delayed...cancelled...

Rod Bransgrove Rod Bransgrove 10:08 pm 04 May 20

so why take the temperature only of people leaving?

Marilyn Roberts Marilyn Roberts 9:01 pm 04 May 20

What a great thing. Congratulations to Canberra airport.

Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 8:23 pm 04 May 20

A far more fairer system in my opinion would be that when this dies down to some extent and Covid PCR tasting can be pushed through quicker, is that anyone wanting to travel on bus,plain, train, they go to a testing centre 24hrs before travelling and get a certificate that clears them of Covid and the flu, and they produce that at the airport, rather than rocking up at the airport and discovering they have a high temp/flu/Covid and are left out of pocket and missing their planned travel/work schedule

Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 8:07 pm 04 May 20

Sooooo at what point will the airport determine someone can’t travel say if they have the common flu and not Covid. Remember, airlines and other passengers have travelled for decades with the flu and it hasn’t been an issue, not that I personally believe it “friendly “ for someone to pass on the flu to others. My point is, this will unfairly disrupt the travels of people with the flu as well when for yonks the flu hasn’t been an “official” problem

    Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 6:11 am 05 May 20

    Chris Cross agree, but a buffer system should be put in place because this was not the norm before and the personal loss financially could be significant

    Deb Champion Deb Champion 6:52 am 05 May 20

    Cary Elliot Johnson how would you know if was the flu or Covid19? Unless you have been tested and found not to have it. Then you could produce your test results I would think

    Janet Hurley Janet Hurley 7:30 am 05 May 20

    Having had flu I’m pretty sure anyone sick with it wouldn’t be travelling. I’d they are, it’s not flu it’s a cold or covid19. Flu is pretty bad, I was bedridden for a week and took weeks to properly recover.

    Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 9:14 am 05 May 20

    Deb Champion see my other comment, the one to the post re pre testing prior to travel

Lucho Torres Lucho Torres 7:47 pm 04 May 20

I hope the local government can apply similar measures for interstate bus trips in the future.

Steven Campbell Steven Campbell 7:10 pm 04 May 20

Hard to believe a first world country doesn’t have that as standard at all international arrivals. This to me is as important as bio security screening for food products. 🤯

    Lee Lee Lee Lee 6:30 am 05 May 20

    Steven Campbell why? There is no medical evidence to support its effectiveness. You realise people who are running for their plane, who suffer from anxiety or are under going medical treatment for non contagious diseases like cancer will get picked up by these machines and have to somehow prove their conditions. It will also not pick up those who are contagious with the flu or covid and other contagious diseases who have mild symptoms, allowing them to spread the illness. So why would we waste money on it?

Fiona Louise Matthews Fiona Louise Matthews 6:47 pm 04 May 20

Interesting it was actually developed for schools. There seems to have been little discussion about using it in schools. Cost or privacy concerns maybe?

    Daniel Oyston Daniel Oyston 7:27 pm 04 May 20

    Fiona Louise Matthews probably more that it would be one less excuse for them to go back

    Steve Aust Steve Aust 9:13 pm 04 May 20

    Daniel Oyston - Singapore schools apparently routinely temp-test every kid before school. Years before Covid.

Kathy Schneider Kathy Schneider 6:38 pm 04 May 20

They had this years ago at Hong Kong airport! Long overdue!

Steve Ross Steve Ross 6:35 pm 04 May 20

Yet another reason not to fly. 🙄

Jane Kim Jane Kim 6:22 pm 04 May 20

What about arrivals?

Bianca Yele Bianca Yele 6:16 pm 04 May 20

Wouldn't this make better sense in the arrivals?? This is just stopping anything from leaving.. We should be stopping anything coming back in

    Joanne Mitchell Joanne Mitchell 6:19 pm 04 May 20

    Bianca Eley wondered that one too - just seems a bit backward really - like they missed the point . All other airports os screen both ways

    Bianca Yele Bianca Yele 6:21 pm 04 May 20

    I mean, it's great outbound too, to offer confidence when getting on a flight (as mentioned in article) but surely the priority is inbound.. Not just covid, but all kinds of stuff can be avoided this way

    David Newman David Newman 6:35 pm 04 May 20

    Bianca Eley, lots of airports have them on arrival but it’s sensible to also have them on departures to reduce the chance of infectious people getting on in the first place

    Teresa McCarthy Teresa McCarthy 8:02 pm 04 May 20

    Bianca Eley yes both ways

    Narrelle Kelly Narrelle Kelly 6:29 pm 05 May 20

    I would have thought arrivals would be better considering we have no cases

Linda Leavitt Linda Leavitt 6:12 pm 04 May 20

Hopefully, this will become standard in all Australian airports. We have to be more careful going forward. Proactive not reactive.

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