British Pakistanis at London's main quarantine centre complain of lack of facilities

British Pakistanis complain of non-provision of meals at the time of Sehri and Iftar as well as not being able to get three meals a day

Murtaza Ali Shah

  • British-Pakistani travellers quarantining at Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel protest over the lack of facilities.
  • They complain of non-provision of meals at the time of Sehri.
  • The protesters complain that kids have been given cold food, and there are people who have also complained of food poisoning.

Desperate British Pakistani travellers quarantining at Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel near Heathrow Airport have protested over the lack of facilities especially the timely provision of food during fast timings.

They congregated at the site reserved for fresh air, complaining of non-provision of meals at the time of Sehri and Iftar as well as not being able to get three meals a day as guaranteed.

Basic human rights

Hasnain Sheikh, who spoke on behalf of around 19 Pakistani families, described the dire situation at the hotel in a video message.

“It’s a basic human rights issue. People have not received food for the three meals that were contractually supposed to be provided to the families. The food that has been delivered has not been on time. Moreover, we are in the midst of the Holy Month of Ramadan. There are people who have fasted without receiving any food at all," Shiekh lamented.

He regretted that the children at the quarantine centre were provided cold food while others also complained of food poisoning. 

Read more: Pakistan extends restrictions on inbound flights as virus cases rise

Multiple other issues were highlighted by other Pakistanis who complained of several problems, reflecting on the inefficiency of the hotel management.

Sheikh said that the purpose of making the video was to call to the attention of the UK government authorities towards the conditions of the returning travellers, which he said are unacceptable. 

Unheard promises

People staying at the quarantine facilities have paid a hefty sum for their quarantine living arrangements for 10 days, he added.

Another spokesperson for the quarantining families, Ghulam Sayyadain said the hotel management has made numerous promises to families but are so far failing in providing the very basics - food and water - and also neglecting the requirements of children.

“More promises and assurances are being given via hotel security, but our plea needs to be heard. This is a human rights crisis and I hope the government pays attention,” he rued, highlighting the sufferings of Pakistanis quarantining at the centre.

Describing the dire conditions since his arrival with the other Pakistani families, Sayyadain said the issue was quite serious because Muslims wait for the Holy month of Ramadan the entire year. 

Abdullah Inayat, who travelled from Lahore with his family of five, including three children, complained about the substandard quality of the meals being provided to the people there. 

His three-year-old son had a bout of food poisoning after eating a meal at the centre. He said: “My family was forced to eat cold food and was not facilitated at all.”

'Stuffed in one room like animals'

A family of five living in one room at another London facility told that it was very difficult for them to live in a cramped up room.

"We are stuffed in one room like animals. We have paid more than £3,500 only to quarantine and we have been deprived of even the basic facilities. For a family of five to live in a medium-sized room is unhygienic and there are dangers to [our] health,” one of the members from Inayat's family shared.

The UK government introduced new quarantine measures for international travellers in a bid to prevent the spread of covid-19, with heavy penalties for those who do not comply.

From February 15, any UK residents returning to the UK having visited a country on the travel ban “red list” will be required to purchase a quarantine package. 

'Hotels obliged to meet people's requirements'

On the other hand, a spokesperson for the Department of Health & Social Care said: “Hotels providing managed quarantine facilities are able to accommodate the vast majority of people's requirements and are obligated to provide guests with three meals a day, access to WIFI, welfare and health support.”

Read more: Coronavirus: Many Pakistanis cut short their stay due to UK's red list restrictions

Pakistan included in UK's red-list

Pakistan was added to the list on April 2. 

Bookings are made through a dedicated online portal and include assigned government transportation, food and drinks, accommodation in a government-approved facility, security, welfare, and testing. The charge for a single adult is £1750.

Under the new rules, all arrivals at English ports are required to undertake two mandatory covid-19 tests, on days 2 and 8 of their 10-day quarantine.

Anyone breaking the rules of quarantine on arrival is liable for strict fines ranging from £5,000 to £10,000.