Last reviewed 29 July 2021

Employers, healthcare professionals and the general public have been warned to take care when purchasing infrared thermometers online and to familiarise themselves with warning signs for poor quality products.

They should also be aware that using such products is not recommended for use in Covid testing.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has highlighted an increase in the number of infrared thermometers that are available in the UK following a massive increase in demand during the pandemic.

Contactless infrared thermometers are widely used to check people’s temperature as a method for screening for a raised temperature, and possible Covid-19 infection. However, products marketed with claims that they can be used for a medical purpose are medical devices and therefore regulated by the MHRA, which has issued the latest warning.

Graeme Tunbridge, Director of MHRA Devices division, said: “It is important that people know what to look out for when purchasing these products, or any other medical devices online. You should always look for the CE or UKCA mark on any medical device ― this will either be on the device or on its packaging, and that includes when you are buying these products online.”

The Agency has published special guidance, available at GOV.UK, which it recommends people to read before going online to buy one of these products.

More importantly, it has also emphasised that temperature screening is not a reliable method for detecting SARS-CoV-2 infection.

“Many thermal cameras and temperature screening products were originally designed for non-medical purposes, such as for building or site security,” Mr Tunbridge said. “Businesses and organisations need to know that using these products for temperature screening could put people’s health at risk.”

There is little scientific evidence to support temperature screening as a reliable method for detection of Covid-19 or other febrile illness, he concluded, especially if used as the main method of testing.