The investigation into the mysterious deaths of two Americans vacationing in Fiji last month may take weeks or possibly longer, the island country’s health ministry said in a statement.
The Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services said in a statement Sunday that determining the causes of death for Michelle Paul, 35, and her husband David Paul, 37, is a “priority.”
“At this stage, for reasons of patient confidentiality, and out of respect to the families of Mr and Mrs Paul during this difficult time, the [Ministry of Health and Medical Services] and its partners involved in the investigation will not comment on specific details of the investigation,” the ministry said in its statement.
The Pauls checked into their hotel room at the Sheraton Denarau Villas on May 22 for what they hoped would be their dream vacation, but they soon began experiencing flu-like symptoms.
In text messages to relatives obtained by ABC News, the Texas couple complained of being violently ill but did not indicate any thoughts they might die.
“We are both going to doctor now,” Michelle Paul texted her parents, who live in Nevada, not long after arriving in Fiji. “We have been throwing up for 8 hours. Dave has diarrhea. My hands are numb. We will text when we can.”
After returning from the clinic, she texted her parents that they received “electrolyte packets and anti-nausea pills,” according to ABC News.
“We still don’t feel 100%,” she wrote. “Going to rest in our room.”
But the couple did not recover.
Michelle Paul died on May 25 and her husband died two days later.
“After reporting feeling unwell, the guests were treated at the local medical facility, where they subsequently passed away,” the hotel said in a statement to ABC News on June 5. “We are working closely with the authorities as they investigate the matter.”
Fiji’s Ministry of Health and Medical Services said in a statement last week that influenza had been ruled out and it did not believe there was any risk to the public. The health ministry monitored several health workers who came into contact with the couple. They were released from the hospital in good health after being quarantined as a precaution, the health ministry said Sunday.
“They are being followed up at their homes by Ministry of Health staff as a matter of precaution,” the statement said. “All other people who had contact with the deceased couple during their illness remain well.”
Family members say David Paul, an Air Force veteran, and Michelle Paul, a former student athlete, were very physically fit and loved to travel.
“They always wanted to explore,” Tracey Calanog, the wife of Michelle Paul’s brother, told ABC affiliate WFAA. “They knew something was going on in their body and were able to get to the hospital.”
Several agencies, including the World Health Organization and U.S. Embassy, are assisting the Fiji health ministry in its investigation of the couple’s death.
A State Department official confirmed the deaths in a statement to HuffPost but would not elaborate further on the investigation.
“We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss,” the official said. “We are closely monitoring local authorities’ investigation into the cause of death. We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance.”
The couple is survived by four young children: a boy they had together and three children from previous relationships, ABC News reported.
“Anything can happen,” Calanog, through tears, told WFAA. “It’s hard.”
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