An outbreak of coronavirus triggered a sharp increase in demand for equipment to detect symptoms of the disease. Chinese manufacturers of thermal imagers work around the clock to deliver their complexes to airports, train stations and other public places. It pays off - since the beginning of the year, these companies have risen in price by 80%
In the Chinese city of Wuhan, which became the epicentre of the outbreak of coronavirus, the streets are deserted, and most businesses instructed to shut down temporarily. However, the factory Wuhan Guide Infrared going on, and 2600 of its employees work around the clock to fulfill orders for systems for the detection of fever, with which the authorities hope to contain the spread of the epidemic.
Over the past few weeks China's largest manufacturer of thermal imagers sold thousands of sets, although usually sells around 100 units per year, announced via e-mail sales Manager Thomas Chen. Authorities and companies rush to install the equipment at airports, railway stations and other public places.
"We did not stop production even for Chinese New year and are now working at full capacity," emphasizes Chen.
The Chinese army, one of the key customers of Wuhan Guide Infrared, will have to wait ― the factory ceased production of night vision devices and other devices to fully use the resources for the production of detection systems symptoms of coronavirus. The cost of thermal company ranges from $5000 to $30 000.
Since the beginning of the year, the shares of Wuhan Guide Infrared has risen to 85,9%. At the close of trading on Monday, they were worth from 39.04 yuan ($5,59), and the market capitalization of the entire company reached $5.16 billion In the result of Wuhan Guide Infrared became the fourth-largest technology company on the Shenzhen stock exchange. The status of the company's founder Juan Li thanks to this rally has grown to $3.4 billion.
Shares of smaller rival company in Zhejiang Dali Technology — over the same period increased by 79% and now cost 19 yuan. The index of the Shenzhen stock exchange since the beginning of the year grew by only 2.9%. Manual Zhejiang Dali Technology did not respond to a request for comment.
Manufacturers of thermal imagers in other countries also declare that they are inundated with orders — complexes for the detection of the symptoms of fever I want to get airports, schools, hotels, shopping centers, and theaters around the world.
"The demand right now is unprecedented. If you try to call our office, most likely, will not be able to get through — all circuits are busy," says the founder and CEO of a Singapore company Omnisense Leonard lim.
The first such system was tested during the SARS epidemic (SARS) in 2003. In the complexes the integrated camera that reads emanating from people and objects infrared radiation, not visible to the naked eye. Special software creates a thermal map of the open areas of the skin.Some systems can accurately read information from people directly from the crowd, but for others it is necessary that a person stands facing the camera motionlessly and the corners of the eyes are clearly visible at the bridge of the nose - at these points the skin temperature is closest to body temperature. Those with an elevated temperature are taken aside for further verification.
In the United States, arriving tourists from China are checked with non-contact infrared thermometers, because the US Food and Drug Administration has not approved full-height thermoscanners to detect symptoms of the disease. Nevertheless, doctors have long doubted the effectiveness of any checks when entering the country to prevent the entry of viruses. Partly because the carrier of the virus may not show any symptoms at the time of arrival.
Analysis of 400 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection showed that, on average, five days elapse from infection to the onset of the first symptoms. According to researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, this means that thermal scans at airports can reveal a maximum of one in five carriers of coronavirus after they spend 12 hours in the air.
Lim is convinced that because of the long incubation period of some viral diseases checking for symptoms should be carried out everywhere. "The patient may pass the test at the airport, but then he gets to the casino or Museum — then will be felt the symptoms," he explains.
Scientists doubt the effectiveness of the previous-generation device for the detection of fever, which were used during outbreaks of SARS and swine flu H1N1. But in 2018 the specialists of the centers for control and prevention of diseases of the United States stated that there is increasing evidence that new types of infrared scanners "when using appropriate equipment and sequence of appropriate procedures" to determine the temperature of a person with much greater accuracy .
The equipment presented on the market today, different different degrees of sensitivity and price.
Infrared Cameras, a small private company from Texas beaumont, sells a system that is approved for use in medicine by the Office for quality control of food and drugs, and costs $10 000. To check a person needs to stand still and face the camera, in sight of which will also be the object emitting the infrared radiation installed and called in the study, black body. The company's founder Gary Strachan said that two weeks ago one customer ordered 230 pieces of equipment, and so now the company increases the pace of production. In addition, Infrared Cameras send price list to thousands of potential buyers. Among them — the company-the organizer of sea cruises, a private school for girls in Hong Kong and the Chinese manufacturer who wants to build an infrared camera in a robot to check presumably infected people did not have to spend man.
A businessman complains that a high demand for thermal imaging cameras trying to take advantage of unscrupulous companies that sell thermal imaging cameras for industrial use with a too large error at 2 degrees Celsius. "The crowd of upstarts want to cash in on the epidemic," he says.
American manufacturer FLIR Systems also produces cameras, certified by the Office for quality control of food and medicines. According to one of the competitors, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus this company has increased sales. The representative of FLIR Systems, said that now can not give comments, because the company has a period of silence due to the preparation for publication of financial statements on February 27.In turn, Omnisense stopped a key production - the assembly of night vision cameras - to bring to the market the latest version of its Sentry Mark4 fever detection system. The CEO of the company, Leonard Lim, says that the system can determine the temperature of the skin of the face and neck of a walking person with an accuracy of 0.2 degrees Celsius. The price of the issue is from $ 20,000 to $ 25,000. According to the head of the company, the symptoms are detected automatically, due to which, during emergency situations, you can install many complexes, having trained personnel only in basic operations.
Until recently, Omnisense refused to sell to China due to concerns about the poor protection of intellectual property in this country. However, after customers close to Beijing promised the manufacturer tax breaks, Lim said he was ready to enter the Chinese market.
Chen from Wuhan Guide Infrared says that when employees come to work, the company checks their condition with in-house equipment. Moreover, every two hours during the working day, the body temperature of the workers is measured by specially trained employees. Since the start of the checks, several people have been quarantined at the nearest hotel, but they have all recovered.
“The virus does not stop us from producing, but only adds work,” Chen says.