Mother, 34, and her one-year-old son ended up in hospital blaming food poisoning after 10-day quarantine hotel stay that was ‘worst ever experience’
- Abby Pansegrauw and her one-year-old son both had to get treatment in hospital
- Family had stayed at Novotel London Heathrow Airport in April when they fell ill
- Medical report shows hospital medics have cited food poisoning as likely cause
- Novotel refuse to acknowledge illness and have reportedly refused to apologise
A family returning to the UK have said staying in a quarantine hotel was their ‘worst ever experience’ after a mother and baby were left needing hospital treatment.
Abby Pansegrauw, 34, and her one-year-old baby son both had to be treated in hospital, the latter for three days, as a result, they say, of food given to them at Novotel London Heathrow Airport in April.
Staying with her husband, Etienne, and two other children, Mrs Pansegrauw was returning after four months stranded in South Africa’s Eastern Cape as a result of the country being placed on the UK’s red list.
They had initially visited family for a short trip in December.
Mr Pansegrauw, 41, who moved to the UK from South Africa in 1999, said: ‘(Mrs Pansegrauw) ended up on a drip, because she was so dehydrated.’
The hotel refused to acknowledge it and refused to apologise.
Pictured: Etienne Pansegrauw with his wife Abby and their children who said staying in a quarantine hotel was their ‘worst ever experience’ after Abby and their son were hospitalised
‘I would say it’s the worst experience I’ve ever had – not just hotel experience.’
The family, who split their time between southwest London and Tadpole Village, Wiltshire, said Mrs Pansegrauw could have theoretically spread a Covid-19 variant to two London taxi drivers who transported them.
Mr Pansegrauw said the family had to wait two hours for the hotel to organise transport to the hospital, which they claimed ‘would be sanitised’ but ultimately was a ‘regular taxi’.
‘When the taxi showed up there were wrappers of crisps lying in the backseat, cans of soda, it was filthy,’ Mr Pansegrauw added.
At the hospital, Mrs Pansegrauw was placed in a ward with Covid patients – then when she was discharged, she was returned to the hotel by a different taxi and driver.
‘That seems ridiculous, doesn’t it really… when you’re dealing with people who you suppose could have Covid,’ said Mr Pansegrauw.
The family say a medical report shows hospital doctors cited food poisoning as likely cause
The Pansegrauw family say they paid £2,400 to stay at the Novotel hotel at Heathrow Airport
‘They were very, very unprepared for it.’
A doctor’s report shared by the family indicates doctors at their hospital believed food poisoning was a likely cause for the mother and son’s illnesses while at Novotel Heathrow.
However, a spokesperson for Novotel said that the company ‘conducted a detailed investigation’ and claimed an attending paramedic ‘found food poisoning to be unlikely with there being no other cases at the hotel’.
All travellers entering England from the Government’s red list of countries must immediately quarantine for 10 full days in one of a number of hotels.
Despite stays costing over £2,000, excluding flights, some travellers have complained about poor customer service and Covid protocols.
The cost of the Pansegrauws’ stay was £2,400 which, on top of £2,000 for their flight, required them to max out their credit cards.
Pictured: photo of examples of the food given to the Pansegrauw family while in quarantine
Despite this, guests had to clean their own room and pay extra per item for their clothes to be washed, Mr Pansegrauw said, and the family’s only kitchen facilities were a mini-fridge and kettle.
The pub owner added there was ‘nothing healthy’ for his children to eat and they were refused requests for ‘simple things’ like spaghetti.
‘I’ve never been in prison before, but (the hotel conditions) felt like that was the closest thing to it,’ Mr Pansegrauw said.
Quarantine hotels are organised on behalf of the UK government by Corporate Travel Management (CTM), which Mr Pansegrauw also described as ‘absolutely useless’.
When organising the trip, Mrs Pansegrauw’s phone records show she had to call CTM almost 20 times over three weeks without reply before they could speak to the company.
Two travellers from India said they also felt the quarantine system placed them in environments where Covid variants could spread.
The Pansegrauw family paid £2,400 to stay at the Novotel Heathrow Airport hotel for 10 days
It was also revealed that several other travellers who complained about the hotel food, with Paresh Bhundia stating that Novotel Heathrow gave him and his wife several meals with meat despite explicit requests for vegetarian cuisine.
A CTM spokesperson said it has made bookings for more than 27,900 people returning to the UK, and received complaints about the service in hotel quarantine for 1.6 per cent of bookings.
‘We are adapting our resources to manage very high volumes of calls from travellers returning to the UK,’ they said.
‘We are sorry for the long wait times that some travellers have experienced in trying to contact us.’
A spokesperson for Novotel said the company was ‘disappointed’ to hear the Pansegrauws’ feedback, adding that feedback from other guests has overall been ‘overwhelmingly positive’.
‘We of course recognise these are challenging circumstances and we have done all we can to make the experience as comfortable as possible for our guests, including enabling guests to order take-away food deliveries during their stay,’ the spokesperson said.
Pictures show double beds squeezed into a single room to accommodate the three of them
‘Any service that falls outside of that, such as security and transport, is the responsibility of other suppliers contracted by the Government.’
It comes after a family of three who got stuck abroad for three months after taking a 10-day holiday in February to Dubai complained of the ‘inhuman’ conditions at their £3,000 quarantine hotel in Luton.
Shabana Shah and her children Rida, 15, and Raiyman, 20, left Britain on February 14 for the getaway but after a series of flight cancellations and a 10,000-mile voyage, only arrived back home on Tuesday.
Ms Shah, 48, claims just four days into her stay, Etihad Airlines cancelled her flight to Manchester Airport, leaving them stranded.
She then booked flights home via Turkey on March 15, but her daughter became ill and was too sick to fly.
Ms Shah then arranged new flights for April 15, but tested positive for Covid and had to isolate.
Shabana Shah (pictured) and her children left Britain on February 14 for the getaway but after a series of flight cancellations and a 10,000-mile voyage, only arrived back home last week
She managed to secure three seats on a plane flying to Heathrow on May 4, but had to scrap her plans because all the quarantine hotels were full.
So she decided to divert to Istanbul, in Turkey, where she had to stay in the country – then on the UK’s travel green list – for 10 days before being allowed to fly back to the UK.
The government then added Turkey to the red list on May 7, forcing the trio into a quarantine hotel in Luton when they finally touched down on May 15.
She said the worst aspect was her stay in the Holiday Inn Express at Luton Airport.
Ms Shah said: ‘That was just awful. We were all in one tiny room and the food was awful.’
When Sabana complained to hotel staff about the conditions, she was told to contact Australian firm Corporate Travel Management (CTM) Ltd, which has the contract with the government.
She said: ‘They were just blaming each other and were just playing games. We were in there for 10 days and nothing was done. We were treated really badly.’
The Shah family were put in a ‘family room’ at the Holiday Inn at a total fixed cost of £3,050.
Pictures show two double beds have been squeezed into a single room to accommodate the three of them.
With luggage taking up what little floor space that is left, the trio have been forced to climb across a bed to get to the bathroom.
It is understood they could get an additional room at a further cost of £650 but have declined.
They family said they were permitted to leave for fresh air for only 15 minutes at a time.
A spokesperson for IHG Hotels and Resorts, which owns the Holiday Inn Express brand, said: ‘We are unable to share any comment as the approach to quarantine is a matter for the DHSC (Department for Health and Social Care).
In response to both cases, a Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘Our top priority has always been protecting the public and the robust border and testing regime we have in place is helping minimise the risk of new variants coming into the UK.
‘The Government continues to ensure every person in quarantine gets the support they need, and all managed quarantine facilities are accommodating the vast majority of people’s requirements.
‘Hotels do their utmost to take any necessary steps to address concerns raised by guests.’
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