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Thomas Cook Finds E. Coli at Egyptian Hotel Where Couple Died

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A picture taken on August 25, 2018 shows the Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Hurghada where a British couple on holiday died within hours of each other a day before. - Engineers have found no fault in the air conditioning unit or any other equipment in the hotel room, the public prosecutor said today. (Photo by MOHAMED EL-SHAHED / AFP) (Photo credit should read MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images)

By Richard Weiss, Bloomberg

Tour operator Thomas Cook Group Plc said it found high levels of bacteria at an Egyptian hotel where a British couple died last month.

Tests on food and hygiene standards uncovered E. coli and staphylococcus at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel in Hurghada, where John and Susan Cooper died on Aug. 21, according to a statement Wednesday. The examination of air, water quality and the swimming pools were normal.

“It is clear from these results that something went wrong in August at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in Hurghada and that standards fell below what we expect from our hotel partners,” the U.K. company said, adding that the results are preliminary. The presence of the bacteria would likely “explain the raised level of illness reported among guests at the hotel during this time.”

Despite finding the bacteria, Thomas Cook said the deaths remain unexplained because autopsy results aren’t yet known and specialists conducting the tests weren’t allowed access to the Coopers’ hotel room. Egyptian authorities are conducting their own investigation, it said. E. coli is commonly found in the human gut, where it usually causes no harm. The bacteria on food can cause lethal outbreaks.

The statement on the test results is the company’s first detailed comment after the deaths and follows speculation in the U.K. media about carbon monoxide poisoning or shigella, another bacteria. Both possibilities were eliminated by the investigation, Thomas Cook said.

The company is blocking reservations at the hotel for its customers and is putting together compensation packages for people who stayed there in August and have declared that they fell ill.

The results “have prompted us to commit further resource to tackle hygiene standards in those hotels where we identify a higher than average level of sickness,” Chief Executive Officer Peter Fankhauser said in the statement. “I am very sorry for all our customers who fell ill while on a Thomas Cook holiday at this hotel.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Richard Weiss in Frankfurt at rweiss5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Eric Pfanner at epfanner1@bloomberg.net, Tara Patel, Christopher Jasper

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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World - U.S. Daily News: Thomas Cook Finds E. Coli at Egyptian Hotel Where Couple Died
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