UK quarantine hotels 'a death sentence' for at-risk Britons, says cancer patient

Figcaption UK Quarantine Hotels A Death Sentence For At Risk Britons Says Cancer Patient
Posted at: Author: Rain TV UK

A British man undergoing treatment for stage four cancer says he is trapped abroad because it would be medically unsafe for him to return to a quarantine hotel.

“I couldn’t do the hotel. I think I’d leave on a stretcher,” said Michael Thomas, who is stuck in Madeira with his wife and 14-year-old daughter.

Thomas, 68, is undergoing treatment for stage four incurable cancer, so had been shielding since the start of the pandemic. He flew out to the Portuguese archipelago for a family holiday in December, but said he has been advised by his GP and oncologist that it would be dangerous for him to return and stay in a quarantine hotel for 10 days, leaving him effectively stranded.

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As of Monday, Madeira has been listed on the government’s red list of locations from which arrivals to the UK must quarantine in a hotel at their own expense. There are no exemptions for people with medical conditions.

Thomas requires a special diet, access to medical supplies and support, and also fears he could contract coronavirus from another guest or member of staff, which he describes as “a death sentence for people like me”.

“I’ve been in isolation since the beginning of the pandemic, but also quite a long time before because I wasn’t well enough to do much more than sit around and read books,” he said. “We came out for 10 days in December. I really, really needed a break.”

In the 10 days he was holidaying in Madeira, coronavirus rates in the UK rose significantly. British Airways cancelled his return flight and rescheduled it for early January, Thomas said, but his GP and oncologist recommended he stay put due to the growing risk of Covid in the UK. The family moved from their hotel to a nearby apartment and began chemotherapy in Madeira. Since the replacement flight, Thomas said all others have been cancelled.

“Madeira is indeed a part of Portugal, but it’s thousands of kilometres away in the middle of the Atlantic ocean,” said Thomas. “Moreover, the reason we came was because Madeira has very low incidences of Covid, and this remains so. But despite that, our government decided to lump it in with the mainland, which seems absurd.”

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While those staying in UK quarantine hotels are able to leave for medical attention, Thomas’s GP has told him she thinks it would be too dangerous for him there.

“The stress isn’t particularly helpful either,” he added. “It means we’re basically banned from returning to our own country … We can hang out here for a bit, but that’s really not the point. Medium or long term, it’s not going to work. I’ve got a kid who I need to have a life.”

He has been offered a coronavirus vaccine from his GP, council and hospital in his home city of London, which he is unable to access, and he cannot get one in Madeira.

“I’m not saying anyone intended it to be this way, but they’ve not fully thought through these things that need to be taken into account. Surely there must be other people in a similar boat. It’s illogical. I have friends returning from LA this Thursday … and they’re going to walk through immigration and go home. It doesn’t make any logical sense.”

The Department of Health and Social Care said: “This new regime was introduced to strengthen our defences against Covid-19 variants, not to put people at increased risk.

“Any passenger that has health concerns about going to a quarantine hotel can request an assessment by a medical professional after they check-in. The rules also allow for people to leave quarantine in medical emergencies and there is clear guidance on GOV.UK which travellers should consult ahead of travel.”

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