Swine flu: Thermal scanners to be installed at Delhi airport (Lead)

June 12th, 2009 - 7:10 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 12 (IANS) Thermal scanners, which scan the body temperature of a person, will be installed at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport for early detection of suspected influenza A(H1N1) cases coming from affected countries, health officials said Friday.
The decision to install thermal scanners was taken at a meeting chaired by Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar Thursday evening, as the World Health Organisation declared swine flu a pandemic and raised the alert against it to the highest level of Phase 6.

India Friday reported another fresh swine flu case in Hyderabad taking the total number of positive cases to 16.

“To begin with, four to six thermal scanners will be installed at the IGI airport and based on the feedback we might install them at other airports too,” Vineet Chawdhry, joint secretary in the health ministry, told reporters here.

Thermal scanners can point out individuals with raised body temperatures that could be indicative of a fever, a key symptom of A(H1N1), even as they walk past.

The instruments are being used globally since the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) flu outbreak. Those who have higher body temperature are indicated by red colouring, as compared to others who have been in the same environment with them.

Chawdhry said: “There is a threshold temperature (normal) fed in the scanner and if the body temperature of a person passing the scanner is more than that, it is indicated on the scanner.”

However, he said the scanners are very sensitive and the threshold temperature automatically increases with increase in the surrounding temperature.

“We will check its effectiveness during the peak hour,” Chawdhry added.

Meanwhile, Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), the developer of the IGI airport, said that screening of passengers for swine flu had been stepped up at the airport.

“The screening is being done round-the-clock on passengers arriving at the international terminal. Passengers coming by international flights are requested to report at the health desk for thorough screening,” Arun Arora, a spokesperson for DIAL said.

According to health ministry, screening at 21 international airports in the country is on and so far 1.7 million people have been screened for the flu.

The H1N1 virus has spread to 74 countries and a total of 28,000 confirmed cases have been registered from across the world, he added.

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