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UK couple who died in Egypt suffered illnesses caused by e.coli, tests show

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Thomas Cook revealed last week that it had identified a high level of e.coli bacteria at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in Hurghada.

Thomas Cook

A British couple who died on a Thomas Cook holiday in Egypt suffered illnesses caused by e.coli, tests have found.

Egypt’s chief prosecutor Nabil Sadek said forensic examinations show John Cooper, 69, suffered acute intestinal dysentery caused by e.coli, and his wife Susan Cooper, 63, suffered a complication linked to infection, likely to have been caused by e.coli.

He said the bodies of the couple from Burnley, Lancashire, showed “no criminal violence”.

DEATH Egypt
(PA Graphics)

Other tests of air and water at the hotel found nothing unusual, he added.

Egypt’s minister of tourism, Rania Al-Mashat, said: “The causes of death, e.coli bacteria, were medically determined by a team of internationally accredited pathologists, which I hope for the family’s sake will put an end to previous speculative suggestions of what might have happened.”

The Coopers died on August 21 while staying at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada.

Their daughter, Kelly Ormerod, who was also staying in the hotel, told Sky News: “The Egyptians are looking for someone to blame and I don’t believe for one minute that (e.coli) caused their deaths. It is unheard of that someone dies of e.coli in such a short space of time.”

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Thomas Cook revealed last week that it had identified a high level of e.coli bacteria at the hotel, which would “explain the raised level of illness reported among guests”.

But the firm said the independent specialists it commissioned to carry out the tests – and Dr Vanya Gant from University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – did not believe the results “shed any light” on the cause of the Coopers’ deaths on August 21.

Thomas Cook moved 300 guests out of the hotel 24 hours after the couple died as a precaution.

A compensation package for all customers who reported an illness while staying at the hotel during August is being put together by Thomas Cook.

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The company has also rolled out a programme of “specialist hygiene assessments” to all its hotels which experience a higher-than-average reported level of sickness.

A Thomas Cook spokesman said: “Thomas Cook notes the announcement today by the Egyptian prosecutor on the results of the autopsies of John and Susan Cooper following their deaths at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic in Hurghada on 21 August 2018.

“We have not yet seen the full report and we will need time for our own experts to review it.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of John and Susan Cooper. We will continue to offer every support to their daughter Kelly and the rest of their family.”

Amandeep Dhillon, partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell, which is representing 46 holidaymakers who fell ill while staying at the hotel this summer, said: “The post-mortem examination results sadly highlights the severity of how dangerous bacterial infections such as e.coli can be.

“The fact that E.coli caused the deaths of the couple is extremely worrying but it is also important to stress that this is an extreme case.

“We have also heard first-hand accounts from dozens of holidaymakers who have fallen ill at the hotel and we are investigating these reports to establish the cause of their illnesses.”

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