Temperature Check: In Silence, Please!

Students queue for temperature checks before being allowed into their classrooms at the Bak Touk High School in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Jan. 11, 2021. (Photo: Xinhua)
  • Cambodianess
  • January 31, 2021 5:18 AM

Noblesse oblige—some gestures have become common heritage of humanity. Temperature check and hand disinfection at the door of public facilities, wearing a mask, distanced greetings and other barrier gestures have, over the course of a few months in 2020, been adopted throughout the world. 

Some grudgingly comply if not refusing to do so, calling this collective hysteria if not world conspiracy. Because some among them believe that the danger attributed to this coronavirus is but total fabrication meant to allow the powers-that-be to suppress personal freedom. For them, those famous new behaviors as well as confinement measures, if not movement restrictions, instead of preventing the spread of the disease infringe on people’s fundamental rights.  

We did not have, here in Cambodia, to go through extreme confinement measures to contain the pandemic—complying with the basic steps recommended by the World Health Organization may have something to do with it. In any case, disinfecting one’s hands and putting on a mask before entering a public space do not do any harm, quite the contrary. We might even consider making these ways common practice as a form of good manners such as for example, taking off one’s shoes before entering a private home.

The issue of taking people’s temperature upon entering a store may be more problematic.  

Of course, fever is one of COVID-19’s symptoms but a great many diseases also trigger fever.

Moreover, one could interpret this as a violation of the oath of ethics required of medical doctors. By being obligated to have our temperature taken at the door of a store, we are now forced to share private information with the stranger that places a digital thermometer next to one’s forehead without actually knowing whether it is used properly and calibrated.  

One can say: This information will be kept between him and me and, therefore, this is acceptable since public health is at stake.

But now, a large number of stores, which are more eager to save money on staff than to keep their customers’ medical data confidential, have installed automatic temperature sensors.

You put your forehead in front of the detector and the device bawls in the whole store in a robot voice: YOU DON’T HAVE FEVER!

And if you have fever, what happens? Do other robots get into action and unceremoniously escort you to the door? Or immediately take you to a quarantine cell at the back of the store where another robot submits you to a screening test whose result will be displayed on a huge screen on the façade of the store?

Don’t laugh! Robotics is developing so fast...

So, if you are setting up this equipment in your stores, at least make them silent. This is the least you can do to respect the customers who enable you to make a living.  



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