Hawaii airports use thermal screening to prevent coronavirus spread

Airports in Honolulu, Lihue, Kahului, Kona and Hilo installed the technology and started using it last weekend

Airports in Hawaii are using thermal screening technology to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, according to a recent report.

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Airports in Honolulu, Lihue, Kahului, Kona and Hilo installed the technology and started using it last weekend, Hawaii Department of Transportation communications director Tim Sakahara said earlier this week.

Sakahara said the screening “has been going very well,” according to KHON2.

“It is just another tool that the state has implemented to try to protect the community against COVID-19 by trying to detect any of those passengers who may have a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher,” Sakahara said.

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If a passenger is found by the thermal cameras to have a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, they will be pulled aside to have their temperature confirmed, the local station reported.

“Then additional precautions will be taken in addition to having the option of having a COVID-19 test and nasal swab taken here at the airport, and then transported to the Department of Health for testing,” Sakahara said.

“The thermal screening equipment is a positive feature that streamlines the process for people traveling to Hawaii, while also working to keep the community safe by detecting people with a fever,” Gov. David Ige said in a statement. “The equipment is a step in the direction of what will be the new normal as we move forward in the COVID-19 era.”

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Sakahara also addressed privacy concerns by saying that only people with temperatures of 100.4 or higher will have their pictures taken so that they can be pulled aside for testing, KHON2 reported.

“The picture itself will not ID that person,” Sakahara added. “So even if a person is coming in and they do set off that alert because they have an elevated temperature it won’t know that person’s name, it won’t know their address, where they live.”

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According to KHON2, the photos won’t be kept for more than 30 minutes before they are “purged and deleted,” and they won’t be shared outside of HDOT.

The Honolulu International Airport (pictured) is one of Hawaii's five airports to install thermal screening technology.  (iStock)

So far, the thermal scanners are only at the gates of trans-Pacific flights, according to a press release, but more scanners are expected to be installed at all gates in Hawaii’s airports by Aug. 20.

HDOT also plans to install facial imaging equipment by the end of the year, the release said.

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