Recent headlines about tourist deaths in Punta Cana have caused travelers to question the safety of the Caribbean destination. Delta Airlines has allowed passengers with tickets to Punta Cana to cancel or reschedule their flights, and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino has removed liquor dispensers from all rooms at the Punta Cana location. Despite tragic headlines, security experts warn travelers not to rush to conclusions and deny that there is anything nefarious at stake. This year, seven deaths have been attributed to tourists who fall ill and die from health-related problems.
In April, the bodies of New York City couple Orlando Moore, 40, and Portia Ravenelle, 52, were found after being reported missing for weeks. Five days after the death of Schaup-Werner, 49-year-old Day, and 63-year-old Holmes, a couple from Maryland were found in their hotel rooms, unanswered. Leyla Cox, 53, was found dead in her hotel room on June 11 while staying at the Excellence Resort in Punta Cana. Allen, a native of New Jersey, died while on vacation in the Dominican Republic on June 13.Caruso, 56, died on June 17 after staying at the Boca Chica Resort in Santo Domingo.
Dozens of members of Oklahoma's Central Parrothead Association say they fell “seriously ill days” during their stay at the Riu Palace Macao Hotel in Punta Cana in April. RIU Hotels & Resorts says that the hotel doctors treated three patients for gastroenteritis and could not determine the source of their stomach flu. Bradley, an international SOS analyst, says there is likely to be a reasonable explanation for the wave of tourist deaths.The State Department said there has been no evidence of foul play or signs that the deaths are connected. Dominican officials have also not confirmed reports that authorities were investigating contaminated alcohol.
Security experts in particular say that the country is no more dangerous than it was before. In a statement, a State Department spokesman tells TIME that there has been no increase in reported deaths of US tourists in the Dominican Republic.For those millions of travelers with booked trips, police and resort officials are asking the public to wait for the conclusions of the investigations before making assumptions. But for those who are worried about recent events in Punta Cana, security experts advise travelers to make sure they have a plan for what they will do if they become ill while traveling abroad.
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