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Case Study

INAOE detects COVID-19 exposures in densely populated spaces


During the COVID-19 pandemic, Jorge de Jesus Alvarado-Martinez, a doctoral candidate at the Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Óptica, y Electrónica (INAOE) studying optical instrumentation and metrology, and some of his colleagues grew interested in the ways thermal imaging could be adapted to help with syndromic surveillance, which is the systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of health data for the purposes of reducing exposure to infectious diseases. Syndromic surveillance helps public health officials detect, monitor, and understand health events in ways that enable timely response and intervention to protect populations from exposure.

For Alvarado and his team, improving thermal imaging technology for syndromic surveillance was a matter of finding an alternative optical design that assesses whole groups of people in a public setting, as well as speeds up the detection process by only identifying people with elevated temperatures. To meet this challenge, Alvarado’s team designed an optical system that differentiates members of a crowd based on bioclinical signals, such as cough and temperature, directly related to the physical symptoms of COVID-19.

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