British-Pakistani woman says family facing racist treatment at UK quarantine facility

Mansoona Naeem and her parents were in Lahore when UK announced to place Pakistan on its red list travel ban category

By |
British-Pakistani health professional Mansoona Naeem

  • British-Pakistani family flies back from Lahore to London, gets shifted to a hotel 210 miles away from home in Manchester last minute for quarantine.
  • Mansoona shares her family has been facing racist comments from a hotel staff member.
  • Millennium Gloucester Hotel, South Kensington is currently hosting dozens of families from India and Pakistan as both countries are now on the UK's red list.

LONDON: A British-Pakistani family has complained of racist treatment by the staff at Central London’s quarantine centre, Millennium Gloucester Hotel South Kensington in the United Kingdom.

Mansoona Naeem and her parents Naeem Choudhry and Fardous Kauser flew back from Lahore to London on May 1 and were shifted to the Millennium Gloucester Hotel after their hotel was changed at the last minute.

The family live around 210 miles away in Manchester, but were told to stay at this facility, as there were no quarantine centres in Manchester.

Mansoona Naeem's parents Naeem Choudhry and Fardous Kauser. Photo: Courtesy our correspondent

Mansoona shared that they faced racist comments from a hotel staff member, who dismissed her complaints and said he didn’t want "complaints coming from Asians." 

The hotel is currently hosting dozens of families from India and Pakistan as both countries are now on the UK's red list.

Mansoona Naeem said they continue to face problems since arriving at the hotel with the staff and the government body responsible for the quarantine - Corporate Travel Management (CTM).

She is a health professional and was in Lahore and Gujranwala for wedding shopping for her brother when the UK announced to place Pakistan on its red list travel ban category around a month ago.

Coronavirus: UK adds Pakistan to its 'red list' of travel ban countries

She paid around £3,000 for the hotel quarantine on top of nearly the same amount for three one-way tickets. On Tuesday, she was shocked when her brother told her an additional £3,000 had been deducted from his account by CTM.

Mansoona is confident that she will be able to get this money back, but the experience is shocking for her family. Her main issue is with the provision of food by the hotel at iftar and sehri time.

On the first day, the family was served lunch which consisted of a sandwich, one banana and a juice. She said: “The dinner was very disappointing with vegetables undercooked and a little portion of either fish cakes or tasteless chicken which practically looked raw. On two occasions, no breakfast was sent to my room and dinner was late by three hours on 03/05/2021 and after so many complaints I received it at 10.30pm.”

“We faced repetitive issues every single day in terms of not being catered for suhoor or iftar in time to the point that it was not given to us to close our fast," she said, adding that she was told to order food from outside through Uber Eats or Deliveroo as her ethnicity is Pakistani. 

She said all the meals were pre-made and unfortunately they could not alter to look after the guests to meet our food requirements which was a personal attack by the catering staff and they could have spoken to me in a much respectful manner, she lamented. 

"If I highlight my concern on breakfast, the only halal option was a vegetarian roll or a fried roll every single day with no variety at all and sandwiches everyday in lunch,” she said.

Mansoona said her family understood that they were in quarantine to complete isolation to follow COVID-19 restrictions but CTM “does not answer any of our calls for any issues we have faced”. 

The British-Pakistani said the reply by the hotel staff is “we have nothing to do with this as the budget we are given by the government is what we are facilitating you with”.

She questioned the UK government on charging a large sum of money, but providing substandard service.

“Let me raise a point for the UK government: you are charging €1,750 per person and can’t supply basic food essentials. I am sure even individuals in a prison are treated well, yet we are looked down on as criminals. This whole system has failed and is the biggest scam ever just to bring money back in the country and unfortunately we are left with no option to come back to our families by paying this ridiculous amount just to come back home.”

Coronavirus: 50% of third wave cases due to UK variant, 25% because of South African variant

For the last four days, her family and friends have been looking after them, dropping food essentials and ordering in to survive and get through the stay. 

She added: “Our whole stay has been awful, trapped into a room where no area has been arranged to go outside for a walk and exercise as mentioned by the government. The only provided area is a smoking area which surely is not safe for everyone.”

She asked: “How does this justify mental health or any underlying conditions people may have while stuck in a room?”