'Resort diversion' in the UAE: 'I’ve never seen such a five-star hotel!'

Russians have been ''poisoned'' in the hotel of an American chain on Victory Day, a pregnant woman and children from Tatarstan are among the victims

'Resort diversion' in the UAE: 'I’ve never seen such a five-star hotel!'

A drip and urinal instead of sunbathing became companions of Russian tourists in Sharjah resort in the Arab Emirates. A temperature about 40° and higher, stomach ache, diarrhoea, vomiting knocked at least 100 residents of five-star Sheraton hotel, which belongs to a US chain, down, told victims from Naberezhnye Chelny to Realnoe Vremya. According to them, the ''poisoned in Sharjah'' still don't know their diagnosis but are preparing a collective international sue to the organisers of such a holiday.

Suspected salmonellosis

Yana R. is a manager is a big company in Chelny. She chooses only five-star hotels for a holiday abroad. She had already been in the Emirates, in Dubai. She's chosen the hotel in Sharjah for the first time. They took off with a five-year-old daughter and 26-year-old niece from Kazan to the Emirates on 6 May. Only the first days of the whole week were holidays – they even didn't have the time to become tanned. Then they had to ''get a suntan'' in bed.

''I travel a lot. But I've never seen such a five-star hotel. I've seen a kind of plastic food there for the first time – the omelette is wooden, sausages are tasteless. I was just shocked at such breakfast. My child refused to eat it. And we had lunch and dinner outside the hotel,'' remembers Yana. According to her, the breakfast on 9 May consisted of the same eggs and sausages, the day passed fine, while at night the daughter woke up and asked some water. ''I felt her forehead – she had a fever. Nurofen didn't help. After temperature, she had diarrhoea and started to vomit. I put wet cloths on her in the morning, started to call the insurance company, went to hospital with their representative,'' tells the tourist.

She says they didn't provide due medical help to the child – they gave antipyretics. But they were useless. By this time, the infection knocked Yana down. According to her, she had to go to hospital again, but they didn't find foundation to hospitalise the child with a temperature of 40°. And on Sunday, 12 May, a doctor finally came to the hotel room accompanied by two employees and prescribed antibiotics. The hotel took the initiative to buy them. And here the mother and daughter's health started to improve. But the girl had to have her bedsheet changed several times at night, while the five-year-old child had a diaper on the plane.

Meanwhile, the water supply system was completely cleaned with a big portion of chlorine in the hotel. During this time, Sheraton's guests were prohibited to use water in the rooms and the swimming pool – masked people also generously threw chlorine there.

Yana's niece stayed strong longer than her relatives – she was hospitalised after she was back to Chelny, on 13 May. ''We think it is salmonellosis. They didn't make a diagnosis in the Emirates, they just told about gastroenteritis,'' tells Yana. When in Chelny, the first thing she did was to take her daughter to a therapist, and she went to do analysis together with her. The results aren't ready yet.

Food made of substitutes?

Some of the people who were on holiday in the same hotel were delivered to the airport of Sharjah by departure right from the hospital in trolleys. By this moment, the citizens of Chelny knew the poisoning was mass. Citizens of Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Germany and other countries are among the victims. From Russia, there were big groups from the Urals, the northern capital of Russia and from Tatarstan.

''I worried about my spouse the most, she is in her sixth month of pregnancy. She got sick on 9 May, she couldn't stand up at all on 10 May,'' tells Artur Pavlov from Chelny to Realnoe Vremya. He's already back from the Emirates with his spouse and three-year-old daughter. He says the baby ate only buns in the hotel. Perhaps, this is why she wasn't affected.

Artur himself seriously injured his arm shortly before Victory Day, and Arab nurses prescribed a course of antibiotics. Their intake together with Russian vodka was what mitigated the action of the unknown infection. Pavlov also accuses the food:

''I heard that artificial rice was made even of rubber. It was very similar, we were given such food as if it had consisted of substitutes.''

The victims in Sharjah stood together while being there – they demanded the hotel administration to reply, called the insurance company, the embassy and the Ministry of Health. One of the tourists recorded a talk with the insurance company. She called first VSK, then she was redirected to its partner. The tourist complained they had been waiting for the doctor for three hours.

''Yes, I understand. The case if that there has been mass poisoning in this hotel today. There are many cases. This is why there is such a delay,'' a representative of the insurance company explained. ''The case is that children have been poisoned, there are many cases. First of all, they have been assisted.''

The victims published this audio recording in their WhatsApp group. They shared their stories in photos, videos and audio records there. Natalia Burdenko and Polina Dudik from Ukraine told they arrived in the Emirates on 9 May and were in bed during the whole holiday. ''It was a poisoning. We're witnesses. And we can say that about and even more than 100 people have been victims,'' the women from Ukraine shared.

''Thanks to the hotel in Sharjah, our holiday has gone down the drain. Money and health have gone in the same direction. The consequences are so far unknown. Great holidays!'' another tourists shares during an excursion to the five-star hotel's room.

Another woman took a photo of her husband the whites of whose eyes became yellow after having breakfast in the five-star hotel…

Victims of diversion united

The administration of the Federal Service for the Oversight of Consumer Protection and Welfare doesn't share how many tourists from Tatarstan turned to doctors after the holiday in Sheraton. Neither does it say what an infection attacked the holidaymakers in the Arab Emirates.

Meanwhile, in answer to TourDom.ru's request, Sheraton Sharjah Beach Resort & Spa gave to understand it was early to talk about mass poisoning. So the hotel says nowadays it's examining the unpleasant situation our guests were in. Some vacationers said they felt bad. Sheraton said it closely cooperated with local health authorities to find the cause of the incident.''

The hotel also noticed the guests' well-being was a priority for the personnel. The very victims say they had to fight for help. Probably because too many people needed it.

The residents of Tatarstan and their fellow sufferers from other regions and countries don't intend to make the resort diversion.

Not mass poisoning but rotavirus?

The diagnosis and causes of the poisoning of the tourists as well as the scale of the incident remain a mystery. The Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) hasn't replied to Realnoe Vremya's request. On 14 May, the ATOR spread information on the Internet with a link to ERV insurance company that ''there were only sporadic cases when Sheraton guests asked medical help''.

''Nowadays we detected 6 cases of addresses after 10 May in this hotel, they are mainly adults,'' ATOR cites ERV Executive Director Yulia Alcheyeva. ''The insurance covers all events, people get due treatment, we pay.'' According to Alcheyeva, the tourists were diagnosed with gastroenteritis; nobody needed hospitalisation, only ambulatory care.

According to Biblio-Globus tour operator whom ATOR also cites doesn't confirm the information about the poisoning of tourists in the hotel: ''We sent an official request to the hotel in this respect. According to the preliminary information of the hotel and medical centre where the hotel tourists were sent, it's not ''mass poisoning'', like it's written in the media. It's just usual rotavirus.''

Press secretary of the Tatarstan Administration of the Federal Service for the Oversight of Consumer Protection and Welfare said about the fate of the Tatarstan tourists: ''We haven't received information. Your question is within the scope of the Ministry of Health. Turn to them.'' Meanwhile, the press service of the regional Ministry of Health insists the federal service has information about the poisoning, and right this authority should reply to the questions about the incident with tourists. The unwillingness of the press service of the Federal Service for the Oversight of Consumer Protection and Welfare in Tatarstan to discuss unpleasant topics is explainable: a meeting of the working group on the organisation of the 2018 WC took place on that day. They need to care about athletes and guests of the cup while our tourists are experienced people, they will handle this on their own…

By Irina Plotnikova, Inna Serova. Photo courtesy of the victims