Temperature checks being done by Burnaby retailers might be a waste of time, based on comments from experts and one of the companies conducting them.
More and more businesses are conducting temperature checks of customers – and one major airline with Air Canada - with the idea that it reinforces and reminds people that if they have a temperature, a cough or a runny nose, they should stay home.
But are they even accurate?
T&T Supermarket, which operates in Metropolis at Metrotown, has consistently been among the first to implement protocols to stem the spread of COVID-19, and was an early adopter of customer temperature checks and in-store mask policies.
But with the warming weather, the company has found customers forced to queue outdoors has led to “inaccurately high” results. Company CEO Tina Lee issued a statement addressing the issue.
“We don’t want to be turning away customers that are registering a high temperature just because they have been standing outside in the heat, or just coming in after some outdoor activity,” wrote Lee, adding employees will still be subject to mandatory temperature checks.
In the meantime, customers are still asked to wear masks when they enter the store.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief medical officer of health, says the checks aren't fail proof because some who contract the virus are asymptomatic at first or never develop any signs of COVID-19.
"The more you actually understand this virus, the more you begin to know that temperature-taking is not effective at all," she said in a recent press conference.
Stephen A Hoption Cann, PhD Clinical Professor at the University of British Columbia's School of Population & Public Health Faculty of Medicine, told Glacier Media in an email that the technology may not actually catch many cases.
However, he adds that it may dissuade sick people from venturing out.
"It is not likely to catch many cases," writes Hoption Cann. "While fever is a common symptom of COVID-19 infection, there are many individuals that only have mild symptoms and no fever, but can still pass on the illness to others; however, people with cold symptoms, who should quarantine at home, often go out and can potentially infect others.
"So even if thermal screening does not catch many individuals with COVID-19, it may discourage those who should quarantine from going out if they know that people are being screened."
- With files from Vancouver is Awesome and the Tri-City News