Richard Lace, 40, who had returned to London from a business trip from South Africa where the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is raging, was placed under routine quarantine in a hotel near Heathrow airport.
After four days and a near-death experience, the Department of Health and Social Care released him from quarantine on medical grounds, which he had requested upon arrival.
Mr Lace, who carries an epinephrine auto-injector, warned staff about his severe nut allergy upon checking into the hotel.
“It really is ridiculous. They had the information from day one. They had two opportunities to get it right and not kill me and I can’t trust that they won’t kill me on the third occasion,” he said.
While at the hotel, he called hotel management after being served breakfast pastries with whole nuts visible, to remind them of his life-threatening allergy.
Lace picks up the story:
I told them it was crazy to serve nuts. I told them ‘I have an EpiPen and I could literally end up in hospital or dying in my room. You have got to make sure this doesn’t happen again’, and they said ‘OK, no problem, so sorry’.
Then tea came. It was some sort of rice dish and I took two bites and straight away I could feel something wasn’t right. I could feel my chest tightening, I was wheezing and looked in the mirror and the left side of my face was puffed out. My anxiety levels went through the roof and I called the number they give you for a medic. I must have rang three times and no one picked up and then I dialed security and nobody picked up and then I just rang zero and a young lad answered and called an ambulance straight away.
Paramedics arrived on the scene within 10 minutes and remained with Lace for more than two hours. He was not transported to a hospital as is indicated after suffering anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction.
Lace refused all hotel food afterward until he was released, fearing the kitchen staff would endanger his life for a third time. He subsisted on fruit and packaged noodles he ordered from a nearby supermarket.
We are happy Mr Lace survived the ordeal to tell his story.
Although quarantine rules are generally restrictive, we remind our readers that hotel staff may not be trained to accommodate food allergies. Before ordering room service, treat the hotel as you would any other food establishment you have not visited before, and be sure to talk directly with the food service manager to determine whether the kitchen is outfitted and the staff trained to prevent cross-contact.
We encourage you to always call the kitchen directly to order, rather than relying on hotel staff to relay your instructions.