Mother and son ended up in hospital and blamed food poisoning after 10 days of quarantine hotel stay
A family returning to the UK has said staying in a quarantine hotel was their ‘worst experience ever’ after a mother and baby needed hospital treatment.
Abby Pansegrauw, 34, and her one-year-old son both had to be treated in hospital for the last three days, as a result of the food they received at Novotel London Heathrow Airport in April.
Ms Pansegrauw was staying with her husband, Etienne, and two other children and returned after four months stranded in South Africa’s Eastern Cape as a result of the country’s being placed on the UK’s red list.
They had visited relatives on a short trip in December.
Mr Pansegrauw, 41, who moved to the UK from South Africa in 1999, said: ‘(Ms Pansegrauw) ended up on an IV because she was so dehydrated.’
The hotel refused to acknowledge it and refused to apologize.
Pictured: Etienne Pansegrauw with his wife Abby and their children who said staying in a quarantine hotel was their ‘worst experience ever’ after Abby and their son were hospitalized
“I’d say it’s the worst experience I’ve ever had – not just a hotel experience.”
The family, who split their time between South West London and Tadpole Village, Wiltshire, said Mrs Pansegrauw could theoretically have distributed a Covid-19 variant among two London taxi drivers who were transporting them.
Mr. Pansegrauw said that the family had to wait two hours at the hotel to arrange transport to the hospital, which they said would be ‘purged’ but ultimately was a ‘regular taxi’.
“When the taxi arrived, there were bags of chips in the back seat, cans of soda, it was filthy,” added Mr. Pansegrauw.
At the hospital, Mrs. Pansegrauw was placed on a ward with Covid patients – when she was discharged, she was taken back to the hotel by another taxi and driver.
“That seems ridiculous, doesn’t it … when you’re dealing with people you suspect might have Covid,” said Mr. Pansegrauw.
The family says a medical report shows hospital doctors cited food poisoning as a likely cause
The Pansegrauw family says they have paid £ 2,400 for a stay at the Novotel hotel at Heathrow Airport
“They were very, very unprepared for it.”
A doctor’s report shared by the family indicates that doctors at their hospital believed food poisoning was a likely cause of mother and son’s illness at Novotel Heathrow.
However, a Novotel spokesperson said the company “conducted a detailed investigation” and claimed that a paramedic present “found food poisoning unlikely as there are no other cases at the hotel.”
All travelers entering England through the Government’s Red List of Countries must immediately be quarantined for 10 full days at one of a number of hotels.
Despite spending over £2,000 excluding flights, some travelers 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 make the most of their credit cards.
Picture: photo of examples of the food that was given to the Pansegrauw family in quarantine
Despite this, guests had to clean their own room and pay extra per item of clothing to wash their clothes, Mr. Pansegrauw said, and the family’s only kitchen facilities were a mini-fridge and kettle.
The café owner added that his children could eat “nothing healthy” and that their requests for “simple things” like spaghetti were denied.
“I’ve never been in prison, but (the hotel conditions) felt like that was the closest,” said Mr. Pansegrauw.
Quarantine hotels are organized on behalf of the UK government by Corporate Travel Management (CTM), which Mr Pansegrauw also described as ‘absolutely useless’.
When organizing the trip, Ms. Pansegrauw’s phone records show that she had to call CTM nearly 20 times over three weeks with no answer before they could speak to the company.
Two travelers from India said they also felt that 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 travelers complained about the food at the hotel, with Paresh Bhundia stating that Novotel Heathrow was feeding him and his wife several meals with meat, despite explicit requests for vegetarian options.
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 percent of bookings.
“We are adjusting our resources to manage very high volumes of calls from travelers returning to the UK,” they said.
“We apologize for the long waiting times some travelers have experienced trying to contact us.”
A Novotel spokesperson said the company was “disappointed” to hear the feedback from the Pansegrauws, adding that the feedback from other guests was generally “overwhelmingly positive.”
“We recognize, of course, that these are challenging circumstances and we have done everything we can to make the experience as pleasant as possible for our guests, including enabling guests to have take-away meals delivered during their stay,” said the spokesperson.
Photos show double beds squeezed into a single room to accommodate the three of them
“Any service beyond this, such as security and transportation, is the responsibility of other government contracted suppliers.”
It comes after a family of three detained abroad for three months after taking a 10-day holiday to Dubai in February complained about the ‘inhumane’ conditions at their £ 3,000 quarantine hotel in Luton.
Shabana Shah and her children Rida, 15, and Raiyman, 20, took off from Britain on February 14 for the flight, but after a series of flight cancellations and a 10,000 mile journey, they didn’t return home until Tuesday.
Ms. Shah, 48, claims that Etihad Airlines canceled her flight to Manchester Airport just four days after her stay, leaving her stranded.
She then booked flights home via Turkey on March 15, but her daughter fell ill and was too sick to fly.
Ms. Shah then arranged for new flights for April 15, but tested positive for Covid and had to isolate.
Shabana Shah (pictured) and her children left Britain for the flight on February 14, but after a series of flight cancellations and a 10,000 mile journey, they didn’t return home until last week
She managed to get three seats on a plane that flew to Heathrow on May 4, but had to scrap her plans as all the quarantine hotels were full.
So she decided to move to Istanbul, Turkey, where she had to stay in the country for 10 days – then on the UK’s green travel list – before being allowed to fly back to the UK.
The government then added Turkey to the red list on May 7, forcing the trio to enter a quarantine hotel in Luton when they finally landed on May 15.
She said the worst aspect was her stay at 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 the hotel staff about the terms and conditions, she was told to contact the Australian company Corporate Travel Management (CTM) Ltd, which has the contract with the government.
She said, “They just blamed each other and were just playing games. We were there for 10 days and nothing was done. We were treated very badly. ‘
The Shah family were placed in a ‘family room’ at the Holiday Inn for a total flat fee of £ 3,050.
The photos show that two double beds have been squeezed into a single room to accommodate the three of them.
Because the luggage takes up the little floor space left, the trio are forced to climb over a bed to get to the bathroom.
Obviously they could get an extra room at an additional cost of £ 650 but this has been declined.
The family said they were allowed to go to fresh air for only 15 minutes at a time.
A spokesperson for IHG Hotels and Resorts, owner of the Holiday Inn Express brand, said: “We cannot 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 helps minimize the risk of new variants entering the UK.
The government continues to ensure that every person in quarantine gets the support they need, and all quarantine facilities managed meet the vast majority of people’s needs.
“Hotels are doing their utmost to take the necessary steps to address guest concerns.”