Coronavirus in KuwaitKuwait

Temperature guns effective, but sun exposure could render reading inaccurate

By Ben Garcia

KUWAIT: Kuwait Times spoke to several people who were prevented from entering stores because the temperature gun showed their temperature was over 38°C degrees. Such a temperature could mean the person may be having some health issues.

The normal body temperature varies depending on many factors, including a person’s age, sex and activity levels.  A Kuwait Times source from the medical field suggested that normal body temperature of an adult is around 37°C, but explained it can be a bit higher or lower. “A temperature of 38°C is a fever, above 39.5°C is high fever and above 41°C is very high fever,” said Dr Emerlita Grantos, a physician at Jarallah Medical Center.

Many businesses were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but some were allowed to operate by the ministry after ordering them to observe health protocols so as not to endanger customers. Many businesses that are serving customers despite the lockdowns and curfew include restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies and telcos. Observance of health protocols is strictly implemented like social distancing, wearing gloves and facemask and using an infrared forehead thermometer gun to test customers if they have fever. If a person has fever, they will be denied entry.

The social distancing requirement means customers must wait for their turn to be served and enter the shop. Some establishments are providing customers in the queue with chairs and air-conditioned waiting areas, while some have to wait under the heat of the sun. Many customers have complained of not being allowed entry just because their temperature spiked to above 38 degrees.

People who know they have no health issues try to argue with the guard. “You saw me in the queue for almost an hour and you won’t allow me entry? I have no fever – this heat came from the sun. You let us wait outside for long period with a temperature of about 40 – of course I will absorb the heat,” an Arab woman told a guard at the telecom company branch, who was not allowed entry.

She was given cold water by another woman in the queue, who told her to drink it and spray on her body, then wait for a minute and her temperature will be okay. “I’ve been in the queue for an hour – the heat of the sun is for real,” she said. After a while, she was allowed to enter the branch.

Another woman told Kuwait Times that around 10 people and herself in the queue were denied entry at 10 am at a bank in Dajeej, because they showed a temperature above 38 degrees. “The guard told us to leave – most were Indians and I was the only Filipina in the queue. I said let me in because I was in the queue since 8 am, but when he checked my temperature, it was 38 point something degrees. So we were all denied entry,” said Bing Mawalic, a personal assistant of her female employer.

Dr Grantos said these temperature guns are the most effective way to immediately gauge a fever, but they can malfunction. “Yes they are effective, but some are not very accurate. But they help to check your approximate body temperature. You will feel it yourself if there’s something wrong with your body. The problem is if you are exposed to direct sunlight, your external body temperature will rise and the device will measure it as well. So I suggest relaxing in a corner and drinking some cold water. If the problem is not internal, the temperature will stabilize soon,” she said.

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