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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

Fifty guests fall ill at Sharjah hotel

Police and Sharjah Municipality health department to investigate source of sickness outbreak

Pavlova Svetlana, 30, from Tatarstan and her 6-year-old son spent three nights in hospital after becoming ill. Courtesy Andriy Voronin
Pavlova Svetlana, 30, from Tatarstan and her 6-year-old son spent three nights in hospital after becoming ill. Courtesy Andriy Voronin

A hotel in Sharjah is working with authorities to investigate why more than 50 of its guests became ill.

The men, women and children staying at the Sheraton Sharjah Beach Resort and Spa were admitted to hospitals across the emirate with vomiting and diarrhoea.

They complained of food poisoning symptoms but the cause has yet to be determined.

A hotel representative told The National: “We can confirm that a number of our guests reported feeling unwell on May 10, 2018. We are working closely with local health authorities to investigate the cause. The well-being of our guests is of paramount priority. We follow dedicated policies and procedures for health and safety across all areas of the property and take prudent steps to provide a safe and comfortable environment at the hotel.”

Among those who became sick were a Russian couple, Raman Zhukova, 30, and his 33-year-old wife, Ekaterina.

The Sheraton Sharjah Beach Resort and Spa. Courtesy Neil Corder
The Sheraton Sharjah Beach Resort and Spa. Courtesy Neil Corder

The couple became sick on May 9 and called their insurance company to request a doctor at the hotel.

“The doctor was four hours late. He told us that several other hotel guests, insured with the same company, called requesting a doctor after suffering from the same symptoms and that the priority was for those who had sick children,” said Mr Zhukova.

He said he became ill at about 10pm and his wife 30 minutes later.

“My temperature was 40°C for three days,” he said. When their conditions did not improve, the couple visited Al Qasimi Hospital where gastroenteritis - inflammation of the stomach and intestines resulting from bacterial or viral infections - was diagnosed.

A Ukrainian man and his pregnant wife also became sick the morning after they arrived at the hotel.

“All people have very similar symptoms and almost all of them started to notice them at the same time. In our case this happened around 9 or 10pm on May 9,” said Andriy Voronin, 29.

In an email to hotel management, he said he and 26-year-old wife Christina checked in at 3.20am on May 9 and had breakfast in the hotel at 10.15am.

Mr Voronin called the reception to request a doctor but was told there wasn’t one available until the next morning.

Fearing for his pregnant wife, Mr Voronin took her to Al Qasimi Hospital where they were also told they had gastroenteritis and were prescribed medication.

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The recovering guests met with hotel management three days later to complain and suggested that food poisoning may have been the cause of their illness.

“We all had the same food - fruit, eggs, cheese, sausages and bread,” said Mr Voronin.

Those affected also created a group chat, adding guests involved in the incident, including those who had returned home.

“A lady from Kazakhstan said her baby fell sick and when they arrived home. Her son was admitted to the intensive care unit,” he said.

Pregnant Pavlova Svetlana, 30, from Tatarstan and 6-year-old Kazkh Dorbin were taken to hospital by ambulance, where they spent three nights.

“The hotel didn't offer any help, they just provided complimentary water and offered some antibiotics,” said Ms Svetlana. She said the hotel offered to send sick guests to hospitals and cover the costs but never followed through.

Some of those who returned home said on the group chat that they had been seen by doctors in their home countries who told them they may have contracted salmonella.

An official from Sharjah Municipality’s health department said an investigation is under way in co-operation with police.