Why is the temperature measured at the airport

Measures against COVID-19Fever measurement at the airport - what speaks for it and what against it?

If you land in Paris Charles de Gaulle these days, one of twelve thermal imaging cameras automatically measures your body temperature. Likewise at some Spanish airports. London Heathrow is also testing such systems at the departure gates. Will the German airports follow this example?

"In some European countries we actually have the requirement to carry out temperature screenings. However, this differs greatly from country to country. In this respect, we have not yet found an example that convinces us."

Explains Ralph Beisel from the German Airports Association. The association has developed a catalog of measures with distance rules, signs and hygiene regulations so that an infected person infects other people as little as possible. Temperature screenings are not on the list. Because the goal is to find infected people in order to isolate them and restrict their freedom of travel.

"In fact, airports in Germany do not consider temperature screenings to be a suitable measure for health protection."

RKI doubts the effectiveness of temperature controls

The Robert Koch Institute sees it that way too. The reason: SARS-CoV-2 infected people are probably already contagious during the incubation period, i.e. on average five to six days before they get a fever. Almost 60 percent do not develop a fever at all later on. And those who do could use antipyretic drugs to cover it up. In an announcement dated May 14, the RKI experts write:

"All of these people would not be recognized by a temperature reading." In return, the systems could sound the wrong alarm in healthy people.

"Conversely, we have a lot of travelers who suffer from fear of flying, but who may also rush through the terminal because they are late at the airport. And then these travelers also have a higher temperature. We would probably up to five percent of all travelers pull out, take part in interviews and would have made people suspicious who are not sick at all. "

Overview on the subject of coronavirus (imago / Rob Engelaar / Hollandse Hoogte)

These interviews are a crucial point. Because what to do with the passengers who stand out during the screenings? They need to be examined more closely and questioned. And not by anyone, but by health experts. And not just anywhere, but in special cabins that are not only virus-proof but also allow discretion. The European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) proposes all of this in the event that states introduce mandatory temperature screenings. With a view to this effort, the RKI writes:

"The screening usually requires a very high level of personnel and resources, which are not sufficiently available at any of the airports named under the International Health Regulations."

Disproportionate effort, ineffective and negligible

The four largest airports in Germany did not want to comment on the subject when asked. Ralf Beisel from the Airport Association says:

"Should there be a uniform European arrangement that calls on us to carry out temperature screenings: Of course we are also prepared for this in Germany as airports."

However, he also emphasizes that ultimately it is not the airports that are responsible for temperature measurements, but the health authorities. EASA at least suggests that passengers sign a slip of paper stating that they have no symptoms, have not had any contact with infected people and do not knowingly have Covid-19. Airports should therefore rely on a quickly signed self-assessment and, if EASA, the RKI and the association have their way, stay blind when searching for potentially infected people. As unsatisfactory as this may sound, according to the RKI it can be justified historically: In 2003 Canada, Australia, Singapore and Taiwan introduced fever tests during the SARS epidemic. Not a single infected person was discovered at that time, writes the RKI and sums up for the Federal Republic:

"Screening measures in Germany would require considerable human resources at border crossing points, which the public health service could use more sensibly in other areas."