E.coli was a factor in the deaths of British couple who died in an Egyptian hotel, the country’s general prosecutor has said.
John Cooper, 69, and his wife Susan, 64, died after being taken ill during a Thomas Cook holiday at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada.
Initially, officials said their deaths on 21 August were not caused by bacteria.
Their daughter Kelly Ormerod, 40, claimed the pair from Burnley, Lancashire, were ‘fit and healthy’ before the holiday and demanded further answers.
Ms Ormerod has always been adamant that she believes something in the room killed her parents, despite Egyptian officials insisting their deaths were ‘normal for an old English man and his wife’ and the result of respiratory and heart failure.
Now, their family have been told they were right.
John, 69, and Susan Cooper, 64, died on August 21 after being taken ill during a Thomas Cook holiday in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada before their mysterious death
Susan and John were staying at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel (pictured) when they fell ill
Prosecutor Nabil Sadek said forensic tests showed that John Cooper suffered acute intestinal dysentery caused by e.coli, and Susan Cooper suffered Hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), likely because of e.Coli.
He says the couple’s bodies showed ‘no criminal violence’ and other tests on air and water at the hotel found nothing unusual.
The report revealed Mr Cooper died in the hotel room after clinical staff from the hotel were called to see him at around 11am.
Later that day his wife reported feeling unwell and was taken to hospital where she was ‘unresponsive’ to CPR carried out for ’30 minutes’. She died at 17:12pm.
Their daughter Kelly Ormerod (right) has previously said said vital clues may have been lost when cleaners and maintenance workers accessed the room soon after her parents died
Thomas Cook evacuated 300 guests from the hotel as a precaution after the Coopers died – despite saying they did not think E. coli killed the Coopers.
The travel company commissioned an independent hygiene specialist and air quality specialist to conduct a series of tests at the hotel.
Last week at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel, high levels of E. coli were found.
Tests on the food and hygiene standards identified a high level of E.coli and staphylococcus bacteria.
Due to the tragic incident operator Thomas Cook has slapped a ban on its holidaymakers using the hotel.
The tour operator is demanding all clients who have booked the five-star Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel in the popular Red Sea resort of Hurghada in the run up to Christmas and over the New Year to move to alternative accommodation, or cancel their trips without penalty.
As a public prosecutor in Egypt confirmed John Cooper and his wife Susan died from the lethal bacteria – which is being dismissed by their daughter Kelly Ormerod as ‘absolute rubbish’ – a spokesperson for Thomas Cook said: ‘The hotel which we sell but is not our own branded is currently unavailable for new bookings until at least January 15 next year and any customers who had a booking there before the tragedy are being told to change accommodation.
‘We are offering alternative hotels in the resort, which is a popular destination with all inclusive packages, plenty of sunshine and lovely beaches.’
Trip of a lifetime: Susan and John Cooper were staying at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel (pictured) in the resort
The spokesman added: ‘The hotel has always been a favourite for families over Christmas but we are not taking any bookings there and are relocating previously booked clients. Most customers are happy to change accommodation, but if not they are being offered a full refund on their holiday.
‘We don’t know what will be happening with this hotel for the forseeable future but we’re putting it on hold until mid January when we will then review the situation and make a decision.
Theories about what happened to John and Susan Cooper
1. Broken-heart syndrome
Susan Cooper was taken ill just hours after her husband died. It was suggested she could have suffered from Broken Heart Syndrome. The rare medical disorder can be brought on by moments of extreme stress, such as the death of a loved one. Part of your heart enlarges and doesn’t pump blood well, which can lead to severe short term heart failure.
2. Fumigation poisoning
It was also revealed the room next door to where the couple died last month had been fumigated with farm-strength-insecticide. Just days prior Namaa Agricultural and Engineering Services sprayed an adjacent with lambda-cyhalothrin 5 per cent. The door of the room, which was sealed with tape, was at the end of the corridor next to where the Coopers were due to stay. It is feared the fumes may have entered their room through the ceiling space. According to the University of Hertfordshire, the spray is highly toxic to mammals and is a known irritant.
3. Air conditioning
There was a suggestion the symptoms were consistent with people who had contracted Legionnaire’s disease. A lung condition that could be carried by contaminated water through an air conditioning unit. There had also been suggestions carbon monoxide poisoning could be to blame. But Egyptian authorities were quick to deny these causes.
4. Swimming Pool
There were also fears it could be linked to bacteria in the pool after some guests said they suffered with diarrhea after going in the pool on different occasions.
5. Food poisoning
Food poisoning can cover a wide variety of afflictions such as Botulism, Salmonella and E.coli. Some guests at the hotel had complained about feeling unwell during their stay.
Today, Egypt’s general prosecutor said E.coli was a factor in the deaths of Susan and John Cooper. You may be exposed to it from contaminated food or water. Last week at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel, high levels of E. coli were found.
‘We cannot say at this stage if we will be removing it from our brochure permanently.’
Earlier this week it was also revealed the room next door to where a British couple died had been fumigated with ‘farm-strength’ insecticide just hours earlier.
Around 200 people have lodged sickness complaints against the resort.
According to The Times, the day before the couple died, August 20, Namaa Agricultural and Engineering Services sprayed an adjacent with lambda-cyhalothrin 5 per cent.
The door of the room, which was sealed with tape, was at the end of the corridor next to where the Coopers were due to stay.
It is feared the fumes may have entered their room through the ceiling space.
Egyptian authorities said this was not the case.
John and Susan’s bodies were released by authorities after tests, last week.
Following the autopsy reports Egypt’s Minister of Tourism, Dr Rania Al-Mashat, said:
‘The autopsy reports published today by Egypt’s Attorney General Nabil Sadek are one more step forward towards helping the grieving Cooper family come to terms with the tragic loss of John and Susan.
‘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 health and safety of all tourists to Egypt are absolutely paramount and I am determined, together with the Prime Minister Dr Mostafa Madbouly and our fellow Ministers to ensure the highest standards of well-being for all visitors to our country.
‘We will review the Attorney General’s autopsy reports in fine detail to determine our next course of action to look after the welfare of our visitors.’
A statement from Thomas Cook 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.’