Thermal Imaging systems and non-contact infrared thermometers, which are Non-contact temperature assessment devices, may be used to measure a person’s temperature.  An elevated temperature is one way to identify a person who may have COVID-19 infection, although an infected person may be contagious without an elevated temperature or other easily detectable symptoms. 

As states and communities implement reopening and or restriction plans during the COVID-19 Pandemic, non-contact temperature assessment devices may be used as part of an initial check at entry points to identify and triage people who may have elevated temperatures.  However, even when these devices are used properly, temperature assessment may have limited impact on reducing the spread of COVID-19 infections. 

This page will provide some information on the use of non-contact temperature assessment devices during the COVID-19 Pandemic.  For more, generalized information on strategies for community mitigation to reduce or prevent local COVID-19 transmission, visit the CDC’s Implementation of Mitigation Strategies.


ABOUT NON-CONTACT TEMPERATURE ASSESSMENT DEVICES

Establishments, such as businesses, transportation systems, and community organizations are developing plans to resume normal or phased operations during Covid-19.  These plans may include an initial assessment to try to identify people who may be infectious to limit the spread of COVID-19 infections.  Temperature measurement can be one part of the assessment to determine if a person has an elevated temperature potentially caused by a COVID-19 infection.   One method to measure a person's surface temperature is the use of "no-touch" or non-contact temperature assessment devices, such as thermal imaging systems (also known as thermal imaging cameras or infrared telethermograph systems) or non-contact infrared thermometers. The use of other temperature assessment devices, such as oral thermometers, requires physical contact which may increase the risk of spreading infection.

For the FDA’s recommendations on the benefits, limitations, and proper use of these devices, visit:
1.  Non-Contract Infrared Thermometers

2. Thermal Imaging Systems

BENEFITS OF NON-CONTACT TEMPERATURE ASSESSMENT DEVICES

  • These non-contact devices can quickly measure and display a temperature reading so a large number of people can be evaluated individually at points of entry.
  • Non-contact infrared thermometers require minimal cleaning between uses.
  • Using non-contract temperature measurement devices may help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 infections.


MANUFACTURING LABELING AND INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE
The manufacturer's labeling for each thermal imaging system and non-contact infrared thermometer has specific instructions for use and additional information that the user of the device should follow to increase accuracy. Temperature measurements can also be affected by several factors including, but not limited to, the person's clothing (including hats and scarves), the testing location and device preparation, the training of the person handling the device, and environmental factors such as room temperature and relative humidity. 

REGULATION OF NON-CONTRACT TEMPERATURE ASSESSMENT DEVICES
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or the Agency) plays a critical role in protecting the United States from threats such as emerging infectious diseases, including the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. FDA is committed to providing timely guidance to support response efforts to this pandemic.

The FDA is issuing this guidance to provide a policy to help expand the availability of clinical electronic thermometers to address this public health emergency.

To help expand the availability of telethermographic systems (also known as thermal imaging systems) and clinical electronic thermometers (including non-contact infrared thermometers) during the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA issued the following guidance:

For further assistance with technical and regulatory requirements for medical devices, visit the FDA’s Device Advice, Comprehensive Regulatory assistance.

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