Heathrow starts thermal imaging trials

By Bev Fearis, published 20/05/20

Trials of temperature screening technology start tomorrow (Thursday) at Heathrow to help detect passengers with COVID-19.

Cameras to monitor the temperatures of people moving through the airport will initially be positioned in the immigration halls of Terminal 2.

If successful, the technology will be rolled out to departures, connections and staff search areas.

The trials will study medical effectiveness, passenger response and suitability to the airport environment.

Data will be shared with government and industry to jumpstart the creation of a Common International Standard for health screening of air travellers.

It is hoped the thermal imaging technology could reduce the need for arriving passengers to quarantine for 14 days.

Other measures being reviewed by Heathrow are UV sanitation, which could be used to quickly and efficiently sanitise security trays, and contact-free security screening equipment to reduce person-to-person contact.

The airport has already installed over 600 hand sanitiser dispensers and has stepped up its cleaning procedures.

Currently only Heathrow Terminals 2 and 5 remain open, but on a significantly scaled down basis.

Heathrow has seen a 90% reduction in passenger numbers since the start of the outbreak but a rise of over 1000% in cargo-only flights per week.

Around 41% of the UK’s pharmaceutical products such as medicines, vaccines and respirators, are imported via Heathrow.