Early detection of suspected cases of COVID-19: role of thermal screening at international airports in India

Achhelal R. Pasi, Pragati B. Gaikwad, Khyati Aroskar, Tarun Kumar, Raphael Teddy, Manas Kundu, Rama Naag, Pradeep Khasnobis, Amruthraj Radhakrishnan, Pravir K. Sen, Alok Mathur


Background: On January 30, 2020 WHO declared the COVID-19 as a PHEIC. In response to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, Government of India started thermal screening of passengers at all PoEs. Present study was conducted to understand the screening activity done at international airports in India, to measure the prevalence of fever in passengers screened and to study the role of thermal screening in early detection of suspected COVID-19 cases.

Methods: Descriptive study design was used in current study and secondary analysis of data collected from CSMI airport Mumbai, IGI airport New Delhi, Cochin international airport Kochi and NSCBI airport Kolkata was done by using universal sample size and purposive sampling technique. Results were presented in the form of rates and ratios appropriately. Chi square test was used to examine the usefulness of the screening activity and p≤0.05 was considered statistically significant.

Results: At selected international airports, in January, February and March 2020, 5.49%, 19.57% and 79.54% of all arrived passengers were screened. Under Vande Bharat mission 100% of the international passengers arrived were screened and fever detection rate was 95 per million passengers screened. Outcome of the thermal screening at representative airports of North, South, East and West regions of India was significantly different.

Conclusions: Thermal screening of passengers at international airports has limited role in early detection of suspected cases of infectious diseases like COVID-19 and has minimum impact on the course of pandemic.


COVID-19, Thermal screening, Early detection of COVID-19, PoEs, Fever detection rate

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