Non-contact infrared thermometers (NCIT)

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Non-contact infrared thermometers and COVID-19

Non-contact infrared thermometers (NCITs) measure body temperature from a specific distance by sensing the energy emitted by humans. NCITs offer a way to take your temperature without touching, unlike traditional thermometers that require physical contact. NCITs have been widely used during the COVID-19 pandemic because of their:

We are issuing this notice to share important information about the use of NCITs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

NCIT limitations in screening for COVID-19

A report by the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health shows that reliance on NCIT readings alone is ineffective for detecting people who have COVID-19.

A fever is only one way to help identify a person who might have a COVID-19 infection. Fever often indicates the presence of an infectious disease, but other non-infectious medical conditions can also result in above-normal body temperature. Fever is not usually the first symptom of COVID-19, and in some cases, a fever never develops. Temperature readings alone should, therefore, not be used to diagnose COVID-19, regardless of what kind of thermometer is used. For more information, consult our page on COVID-19 symptoms and treatment.

Factors that influence the accuracy of NCITs

NCITs are considered more susceptible to inaccurate measurements than other thermometers (for example, oral and rectal thermometers, well-calibrated tympanic thermometers). Several factors influence the ability of NCITs to detect fever accurately, including:

The inaccuracy of NCITs is made worse:

Best practices when using NCITs

There are a number of actions to ensure NCITs work most effectively. It is important to note that different thermometers may have different performance specifications listed in the instructions. You should strictly follow the manufacturer's guidelines and instructions for use for the specific NCIT model you're using.

Preparing the environment and NCIT

Where the NCIT is used may affect its performance. The recommendations for optimal NCIT use include:

Preparing the person who is having their temperature taken

To take someone's temperature with an NCIT, you should ensure that:

Using the NCIT

Typical instructions for using NCITs include:

Cleaning between uses

Follow the instructions in the cleaning and disinfecting section provided by the manufacturer (instructions for use).


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