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Fatal outbreak at Dubai hotel

THE operator of a five-star hotel in Dubai said yesterday that it is working with local authorities to determine how three guests became infected with Legionnaires' disease, including one who died on Friday.

Initial tests on the Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina have not found the presence of the bacterium that causes the disease, the hotel's parent company said.

The company, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, said it is conducting an investigation with government and health officials in the Middle Eastern tourist hub, and has brought in outside experts from Europe and the United States.

"Although recent monitoring and testing has not revealed the presence of legionella at the property, hotel management is continuing to monitor the situation and has begun contacting guests and associates to advise them of the circumstances," the company said.

A Dubai Municipality official said that authorities are investigating the matter but declined to elaborate until the investigation is finished.

Starwood confirmed that the guests in question included British cricket statistician and broadcaster Bill Frindall, who died on Friday following an illness. He was 69.

Frindall, who covered more than 350 test matches for BBC radio from 1966, was dubbed "The Bearded Wonder" by late commentator Brian Johnston for his encyclopedic knowledge of cricket facts.

Starwood did not provide details about the other infected guests.

With about 900 hotels in more than 100 countries, the company is one of the world's biggest hotel operators. Its brands include Le Meridien, Sheraton and St Regis hotels.

The Westin Dubai served as headquarters and site of the start and finish line for the Dubai Marathon.

Legionnaires' disease is a form of pneumonia that can be spread through plumbing and air conditioning. It can be fatal, particularly in people with weak immune systems.


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