Family quarantining in Novotel claim meals hospitalised them with food poisoning

A mum and baby were rushed to hospital over alleged food poisoning during their "worst ever experience" while in quarantine at a Novotel.

Abby Pansegrauw's one-year-old son both had to be treated for three days following their return to the UK after four months stranded in South Africa.

The 34-year-old claimed they fell ill due to the food given to them on their return to the UK at Novotel London Heathrow Airport in April.

She was staying with her husband, Etienne, and two other children after being stranded in South Africa's Eatern Cape due to the country being placed on the UK's red list.

Mrs Pansegrauw, whose family splits their time between southwest London and Tadpole Village, Wiltshire, had initially visited family for a short trip in December.

Her 41-year-old husband, who moved to the UK from South Africa in 1999, said: "She ended up on a drip, because she was so dehydrated.

"The hotel refused to acknowledge it and refused to apologise.

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"I would say it's the worst experience I've ever had – not just hotel experience."

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.

A doctor's report suggested their hospital believed food poisoning was a likely cause for the mother and son's illnesses while at Novotel Heathrow.

Quarantine hotels are organised on behalf of the UK government by Corporate Travel Management (CTM).

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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% 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 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".

They added it was "disappointed" to hear the Pansegrauws' feedback and 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.

"Any service that falls outside of that, such as security and transport, is the responsibility of other suppliers contracted by the Government."

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."

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