President of the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) Professor Indika Karunatillake  and Convener of the Medical Association Intercollegiate Committee  Dr Ananda Wijewickrama  , have written to the Secretary to the Ministry of Education N.H.M.Chithrananda saying the purchase of thermometers for schools to screen students and staff on  entry  to premises  is highly questionable.

In the letter, the SLMA officials said current evidence suggests that a significant number of individuals with COVID-19 are asymptomatic  or mildly symptomatic , therefore they will not have fever.

Furthermore , it has  been found that those infected with COVID-19 are infected from a  few days even before the onset of fever  and thus checking the temperature at the gate would miss a significant number of potentially infective individuals  and it may give rise to a  sense of  false security to the students , parents and staff.

“As this proposed use of thermometers cannot be justified as a preventive strategy based on current body of scientific  evidence, its cost effectiveness  is highly questionable,” the SLMA said.

The doctors have instead suggested that without spending the substantial amount of money purchasing thermometers,  the money should be  allocated for interventions proven to reduce the risk of transmission such as providing running water and facilities to wash hands, face masks and provisions to maintain physical distancing to at least to some of the schools.

“We as health professionals representing all specialties of medicine , are of the view that checking the temperature of all students on entry inot the school premises will not be an effective exercise  to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 epidemic in the country. We also propose that  clear messages should be sent to parents informing them not to send students to the school if they show any respiratory symptoms.

They urged the authorities to plan and implement evidence-based interventions to make maximum  use of the  limited resources available  in the country.