E.coli has been found at the Egyptian hotel where a British couple died but this does not establish the cause of their deaths, tour operator Thomas Cook said.
The firm commissioned tests of food, water and air at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada after John and Susan Cooper, who were both from Burnley, Lancashire, died on August 21.
The tests on the food and hygiene standards identified a high level of e.coli and staphylococcus bacteria, the company said in a statement.
But neither the independent specialists who carried out the investigation nor a medical expert “believe that these results shed any light on the still unexplained cause of death of Mr and Mrs Cooper”, according to Thomas Cook.
Mr Cooper, 69, died in his room, while Mrs Cooper, 63, a Thomas Cook employee, died after being taken to hospital.
The firm moved 300 guests out of the hotel 24 hours after the couple died as a precaution after becoming aware of an increased number of illnesses.
The company said: “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.
“This is also supported by a review that we have conducted of our customer satisfaction scores, which fell sharply during this month.
“It is likely that the presence of e-coli and staphylococcus would explain the raised level of illness reported among guests at the hotel during this time, supporting Thomas Cook’s decision to remove our 300 customers.”
The tests were carried out at the hotel but not inside the Coopers’ bedroom, as it remains under the control of the Egyptian authorities.
Examination of air and water quality “came back clear” and there was no evidence of carbon monoxide – and normal levels of carbon dioxide – in the vicinity of the room.
A typical amount of chlorine was found in the swimming pools, while the food and hygiene tests did not detect the presence of shigella, listeria or salmonella.
Thomas Cook is putting together a compensation package for all customers staying at the hotel during August who have reported an illness.
It has also rolled out a programme of “specialist hygiene assessments” to all its hotels which experience a higher-than-average reported level of sickness.
Chief executive Peter Fankhauser said: “Everyone at Thomas Cook is deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of John and Susan Cooper while staying at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in Hurghada. Susan was a longstanding and much-loved colleague of ours.”
He added: “At any one time, Thomas Cook has more than 500,000 people holidaying with us somewhere in the world. We will continue to do all that we can to keep them safe and well on what should be the happiest weeks of their year.”
A spokesman for Steigenberger Hotels said: “We are deeply saddened by the tragedy in the Aqua Magic Hotel in Hurghada. We are expecting the results of the full investigation being conducted by the Egyptian authorities, who have our full support.
“We have taken note of the interim results published by our partner Thomas Cook, which matches with our independent investigations concerning the good results of water and air quality.
“Our high standards in terms of hygiene are not negotiable and of course apply also to all of our franchise hotels as well.
“We are constantly monitoring the quality by outside independent contractors. So any high level of bacteria would not be acceptable by our high standards. The security and wellbeing of our valued guests around the world is of highest priority.”