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Covid-19 and Temperature Readings

With the widespread screening of the population, whether at work, school, shopping centres or airports, it has become increasingly critical that people understand what is considered to be a normal body temperature and the consequences of getting it wrong.

Normal Temperature

The average normal body temperature is between 36° and 37° Celsius. We’re all different and we all run at different temperatures. Take my daughters for example: my eldest has always run hot. For her, normal is late 36’s and even up to 37.1 on a really hot day. This is her normal. My middle child on the other hand would be coming down with something at 37°C. Her normal is about 36.5°C. So we’re all different, but for the most part, we all fit into that normal average band.

What Happens Outside of the Normal Range?

Quite simply, once the body starts to head past 37.3°C, it’s considered a fever and there could be something brewing in the system. The higher it gets, the harder the immune system is fighting.

Anything below 36°C is considered a cold body temperature and while not considered normal, it is possible to be at a cold temperature for a while. It’s probably because you’re exposed to cold weather or cold water which is affecting your core body temperature.

Once you go below 35°C, you are entering hypothermia.

Hypothermia is a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature. Mayo Clinic

Why am I Stating the Obvious

I’m not sure if people are just simply desperate to show evidence of no fever during these anxious times of Covid-19 screening or if they simply don’t know the basics of body temperature.

Everywhere I go, businesses have invested a lot of money in infrared thermometers, so that they can scan their staff for fevers without having to touch them. There is no place for traditional thermometers these days.

I’ve engaged in a friendly manner with a few owners and so far, most people have temperatures in the late 35’s. One store owner friend had a list of all his staff and they were all in the mid 34’s. Yesterday, I asked a shop owner to test my temperature and she gladly did so, pointing her little gun shaped thermometer at my forehead with pride – she had just purchased the device. My temperature was 35.7°C. I smiled. I went outside and stood with my face pointing towards the heavens. I came back inside and ask her to check my temperature again. This time my temperature was 37.6°C.

Do You See the Problem Here Folks?

Covid-19 screening will all be for naught if temperatures are not taken correctly. If these infrared thermometers are not used correctly, and are picking up too much ambient temperature, people with real fevers are going to be misdiagnosed. For example, if I’m running a slight fever of 37.3°C and the thermometer is not being used correctly, I could display a temperature of 36-point-something, and the user will be none-the-wiser, and I will pass the screening.

Now imagine these misreadings happening in factories, and mines, schools and shopping centres. Thousands of people could be affected simply because screeners don’t know how to use the thermometer and they don’t realise when a reading is not within the average normal range.

It is VITAL that the thermometers are understood and everyone using them knows how to use them and knows what readings to expect.

Ambium Can Help!

When a temperature is captured into Ambium, it is immediately categorised. The image below shows the categories of fevers as per readings captured.

Sample Temperatures Captured in Ambium

The operator or screener can then be shown that if the reading is not ‘normal’, he/she needs to retest, perhaps moving closer to the employee’s forehead. Otherwise they should call a supervisor.

Then of course there’s the ‘What the Hell‘ temperature that Ambium simply won’t save because it’s outside of the range, and the employee is actually on the floor, dead. The image below demonstrates the error that the screener will get when trying to save the readings.

Attempted Save on Temperature Out of Range


People out there who will be screening the nation in their offices, schools, factories and shopping centres need to be properly trained and know how to use the infrared thermometers that they are given. Otherwise, we’re wasting our time with Covid-19 screening.

Ambium will prove a valuable asset in every environment where screening needs to take place.

For more information about Ambium, please contact us on

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