One family returning to the UK said staying in a quarantine hotel was their “worst experience” after the mother and baby were hospitalized.
Abby Pansegrauw, 34, who has homes in Wiltshire and London, and her one-year-old young son both had to be hospitalized while isolated at Novotel London Heathrow Airport in April. They blamed the food they were given in the hotel.
The stay with her husband Etienne and two other children, Mrs. Pansegrauw, returned after four months in the South African Eastern Cape, as the country was placed on the UK’s Red List.
They originally visited the family for a short trip in December.
“(Ms. Pansegrauw) got a drop because she was so dehydrated,” 41-year-old Pansegrauw, who moved to the UK from South Africa in 1999, told PA News Agency.
“The hotel refused to acknowledge it and apologize. I would say it’s the worst experience I’ve ever had – not just a hotel experience. “
Angry Mr Pansegrauw said the family had to wait two hours for the hotel to organize transportation to the hospital, which turned out to be a taxi.
“When the taxi showed up, there were chips wrappers, soda cans in the back seat, it was dirty,” added Pansegrauw.
In the hospital, Ms. Pansegrauw was brought to a ward with Covid patients. When she was released, another taxi and driver brought her back to the hotel.
According to a medical report, medical professionals believed food poisoning was a likely cause of the mother and son’s illnesses at the Novotel Heathrow.
However, a spokesman for Novotel said the company had “conducted a detailed investigation” and alleged a paramedic in attendance had “found food poisoning unlikely as there are no other cases at the hotel.”
All travelers entering England from the government’s red list of countries must immediately quarantine for 10 full days in one of several hotels.
Despite staying over £ 2,000 (excluding flights), some travelers have complained about poor customer service and Covid logs.
Even so, guests had to clean their own room and pay extra per item so their clothes could be washed, Pansegrauw said, and the family’s only kitchen was a mini fridge and kettle.
Quarantine hotels are organized on behalf of the UK government by Corporate Travel Management (CTM), which Mr Pansegrauw also describes as “absolutely useless”.
In organizing the trip, Ms. Pansegrauw’s phone records show that within three weeks she had to call CTM nearly 20 times without receiving a response before they could speak to the company.
Two travelers from India told PA they also felt the quarantine system was placing them in environments where variants of Covid could spread.
Several other travelers complained about the hotel’s food. Paresh Bhundia stated that the Novotel Heathrow had given him and his wife several meals of meat despite explicit requests for vegetarian cuisine.
A CTM spokesman said it made bookings for more than 27,900 people returning to the UK and received complaints about hotel quarantine service for 1.6 percent of bookings.
“We are adjusting our resources to handle a huge number of calls from travelers returning to the UK,” they said.
A spokesperson for Novotel said the company was “disappointed” to hear feedback from the Pansegrauws, adding that overall feedback from other guests was “mostly positive”.
A health department spokesman said: “Our top priority has always been to protect the public and the robust border and testing regime we have put in place is helping to minimize the risk of new varieties entering the UK.
“The government continues to ensure that every person in quarantine has the support they need, and all of the quarantine facilities they manage meet most of the needs of the people.”