A Jewish family from Finchley is self-isolating after their daughter was potentially exposed to the coronavirus at a music venue in Camden last month.
Jessica Gee, a graphic designer and photographer, joined half a dozen friends at the Jazz Cafe last month, where she came into contact with a confirmed case.
The 22-year old former Immanuel school pupil, and her parents Trevor and Lindsey Gee, 62 and 61, have been in a precautionary self-quarantine since last Saturday.
The family – which has not exhibited any symptoms – is due to come out of quarantine on Saturday evening.
“My daughter found out on Saturday that the boy she had seen at the nightclub had contracted the virus, and his family had been on a trip to Italy,” the dad said, speaking to Jewish News on Monday.
Before being assessed at the weekend, the family did a grocery shop, buying water, tea and coffee, cans of tuna, rice and some perishables.
“That’s when I phoned NHS 111,” the dad said. “We were advised to stay isolated for two weeks [since the possible exposure] which expires the Saturday night.”
“We’re trying as much as possible to smile our way through it,” he said.
But his daughter, forced to see “no other faces than those of her parents”, is finding the experience more difficult, he quipped. “That’s the biggest issue for her, and our biggest concern is feeling like having an irate temperamental daughter.”
“We try to hide in different rooms, and any suggestions of learning to play chess are not particularly well received,” he said.
Jessica phoned NHS 111 on Sunday and was advised by a call handler not to self-isolate, contradicting previous advice given to the family, he said.
“My daughter shouted out in glee, ‘look dad I don’t have to stay at home. They’re advising me that since I don’t have any symptoms I can get out of the house’,” he said.
Taking charge of the phone, the dad urged the call handler, who said she was not medically qualified, to consult a medic on her team.
“She went away for a good 4 to 5 minutes. Presumably she consulted with the medics in her team on 111, came back and said ‘no I need to revise my advice. You must stay isolated for two weeks’,” he said.
While describing the incident as an “administrative error,” Gee said the contradictory advice “could have been potentially quite dangerous.”
“They’re doing their best, but mistakes are going to be made,” he added.
Data released by NHS England revealed calls to NHS 111 were up by over a third compared with the same time last year, with over 389,779 calls between 27 February and 5 March.
A new online service launched last week to meet surging demand amid the outbreak was used by one million people since last week.
“NHS staff continue to work around the clock to ensure everyone gets the care, advice and support that they need to deal with coronavirus,” said NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis.
“With more than one million people using the new online service, 111 online is helping people to get specific information and advice at the touch of a button, helping to give people quick advice, increase capacity in the NHS and free up clinicians’ time,” he added.
The Jazz Cafe was approached for comment.
- You can use the NHS 111 online service to find out next steps if you believe you may have the coronavirus, came into close contact with a confirmed case or visited a country or area with a high risk in the last 14 days.
- Do not visit a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital, and call NHS 111 if you need to speak to someone.