The Valencian Health Services came under fire from the Valencia Parliament on Saturday for its response over the Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak in Calpe.
Lluis Torró, spokesperson for the Esquerra Unida party, asked the question: “How is it possible that the British health service warned about the problem of the outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease in Calpe before the Valencia health services?’
He was referring to the recent Legionnaire’s disease outbreak that caused the deaths of three elderly British holidaymakers and affected 15 other guests – 11 British – staying at the AR Diamante Beach Hotel in the Marina Alta coastal resort of Calpe.
The first death occurred on January 26. Lluis Torró accused the regional Health Authority of, “hiding relevant information from an epidemiological point of view which could affect the population, with the excuse of not alarming the population.”
The EU party representative went on to say that in such cases a policy of transparency is followed so all the preventative measures can be taken. He asked that someone must accept full responsibility for the lack of information in this case.
Head of Communications for Saga Holidays Paul Green, said the company was first aware of a problem when they were notified on January 14 that one of their customer’s was being treated for pneumonia caused by legionella at the hotel4 when they immediately sent out a scientific expert to the resort and offered to move their guests to a different hotel.
“When that happened we immediately sent out a scientific expert to Spain and informed our guests there and offered to move them to a different hotel,” he said, according to British daily The Guardian.
“We also contacted people who had stayed at the hotel in the previous month telling them to contact their doctor if they were experiencing flu-like symptoms.”
But no official notice was received until last Saturday, February 4. In defence, the regional health minister, Luis Rosado, said a preliminary test had failed to locate the bacterium that causes the disease and therefore did not inform the authorities of the outbreak until the results of a second test were confirmed.
On Friday, February 3, Calpe Mayor César Sánchez in conjunction with Councillor for Heath Luis Rosado told a press conference that, ‘All possible safety measures were being taken to prevent further contagion and that there was ‘no reason for alarm.’
The following day Saturday 4th, the town hall admitted that further tests on Friday had shown the legionella virus to be more aggressive than expected. Later that day, the Valencian Government announced that Diamante Beach Hotel had been temporarily closed for desinfection as a preventative measure.
When EWN contacted the hotel, a woman from the reservations called Ana – who did not want to provide her surname – confirmed the Diamante Beach would re-open tomorrow (Friday), but denied the reason for closure was because of the Legionnaire’s outbreak, citing “maintenance” as the reason.
Not to be outdone in the public relation stakes, on Monday, Calpe Mayor Cesar Sanchez said that they expect the Department of Health clean-up operation to be complete by tomorrow and ’To demonstrate our confidence in all establishments and tourist companies in the town, members of the local authority will stay at the hotel for the re-opening.’
Later, the meeting announced there would be a special Valentine grand draw for all consumers who purchased goods in Calpe shops between the 6th and 17th of February.
First prize; a stay for two at Calpe Hotel SH Ifach.
Text and photos by Benny Davis