Port to become first in UK to install temperature-screening camera

The scanner is to be installed at Portsmouth International Port Credit: Ben Mitchell/PA

Portsmouth International Port has become the first UK port to install a thermal scanner to allow ferry and cruise operators to screen their passengers for Covid-19 symptoms.

The temperature-screening technology to be used by the Hampshire port involves a camera detection system to monitor the temperature of passengers.

The system, which has an accuracy of +/- 0.2 degrees, will be trialled as an option for foot passengers joining ships to support infection control for ships using the port.

It is aimed at informing a ship’s medical team to enable them to make the decision whether the passenger should be allowed to board.

The machine is not currently expected to be used for screening passengers arriving in the UK but a port spokesman said it could be used at arrivals if required by the Government.

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.”

The technology is being brought in ready for when passenger travel restarts as the port is currently only handling freight sailings.

But the port is optimistic that there will be demand for domestic cruise sailings even if international travel is stopped for a prolonged period by the virus.

Mr Sellers said: “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.

“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.”

Other safety measures being introduced at the port include full-face PPE for customer-facing staff, social distancing measure, clinical level hand sanitisation for door handles and cleaning stations.