Coronavirus: Portsmouth Port becomes first in UK to install temperature scanner

22 May 2020, 15:02

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Portsmouth International Port has become the first in the UK to install a thermal temperature scanner for screening ferry and cruise passengers for coronavirus symptoms.

The single camera detection system will monitor the temperature of passengers using temperature-screening technology that has an accuracy of plus or minus 0.2 degrees.

It will be trialled on foot passengers at the Hampshire port and is hoped to control and limit the spread of Covid-19 on ships using the harbour.

If the trial proves to be successful, then more cameras will be installed elsewhere.

Portsmouth International Port has become the first in the UK to install screening cameras
Portsmouth International Port has become the first in the UK to install screening cameras. Picture: LBC News

The machine will help staff working on each ship decide whether or not a passenger is safe to travel on board.

If someone has a high temperature and triggers the alarm, staff will only alert the ship's medical teams.

It is not expected to be used to screen people arriving in the UK, however a port spokesman said that could be possible if required by the government.

The camera will scan people's body temperature in a non-intrusiive manner
The camera will scan people's body temperature in a non-intrusiive manner. Picture: LBC News

Port director Mike Sellers said: "We want to make sure we're in the best position to welcome back passengers in a managed, safe and sensible way.

"Being able to help support our ferry and cruise lines by providing solutions for potential health protocols, should operators choose to use it for their customers, means we're ready to go once travel restrictions are eased.

"There are ongoing discussions about a common framework for health screenings, which are being explored by all transport operators.

"Until there is an international standard we want to make sure we can meet a universal expectation to reduce the transmission of the coronavirus."

Mike Sellers hopes the move will reduce the transmission of coronavirus
Mike Sellers hopes the move will reduce the transmission of coronavirus. Picture: PA

The port is currently only handling freight ships, but the technology is being introduced for when passengers return for travel.

Mr Sellers is confident there will be demand for domestic cruise journeys even if international travel does not immediately return due to the global pandemic.

"Even if overseas travel is delayed, UK-based cruise itineraries will still be popular as the public look to find a way to have a break locally," the port director said.

"As a port suited to small medium-sized, boutique sailing ships, we're in an ideal position to manage a phased return to sailing, especially with the draw of our city's attractions.

"We also support the idea for sea bridges to help encourage safe travel. As a method of transport ships provide outside space, room to move around indoors, and lend themselves to social distancing measures."

The port is also introducing full-face PPE for customer-facing staff, social distancing measures, cleaning stations and clinical level hand sanitisation for door handles.

Mr Sellers continued: "Our key workers continued to operate since the lockdown restrictions were implemented providing essential operations for critical freight and lifeline services. It is even more important as a major port we have the right measures in place to manage the flow of people as well as goods safely.

"We're working with our partners in Border Force, Condor Ferries, Brittany Ferries, and also listening to our cruise customers about what needs to be in place when travel restrictions are eased."

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