Source: Stuff, 16 August 2016
The hunt for the source of Havelock North's toxic water outbreak
is continuing, as Prime Minister John Key refused to rule out the
possibility of the people responsible losing their jobs.
Key said on Tuesday the Ministry of Health would be involved
into an inquiry in the outbreak, which has struck down an
estimated 2000 residents.
The Hawke's Bay District Health Board said on Tuesday night
there were 191 confirmed or probable cases of campylobacter now
Two seriously ill patients admitted to intensive care
were recovering, with one now well enough to be moved to a
DHB chief executive Kevin Snee said the outbreak appeared to
have peaked in the past few days, and "we would hope it would
start to abate over the next day or two".
Hastings District Council water services manager Brett
Chapman said all tests on the town's water supply since Saturday
had come back clear.
However, the source of the water, an aquifer 20 metres
beneath the surface, remained contaminated.
It should become clear in the next few days whether the bug
originated in faeces from birds, cattle or sheep.
A mushroom farm that uses large amounts of chicken manure, based
near the Havelock North water bores, has denied responsibility, and
has invited authorities on to the property to investigate.
Te Mata Mushroom Company owner
Michael Whittaker said the farm's effluent
holding ponds had not been breached, and he did not believe it was
possible that manure had leached into the water supply.
Chapman said chlorination would remain in place for the
"foreseeable future", and UV treatment would also commence as
the contamination meant it was now a legal requirement.
Medical officer of health Nick Jones said the number of people
affected appeared to have plateaued, but there was potential for
the bug to spread outside Havelock North.
He warned that anyone affected by the virus should
not return to work until 48 hours after they had been
The boil-water notice remained in place as an added level of
Test results from a person who died of a gastro-type
illness last week had not come back yet, so it remained
unknown whether the death was related to the bug.
Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said he did not believe the council
had been negligent, but the ongoing investigation would resolve
Whether compensation would be made available to those affected
"was really an issue for next week".
TOO EARLY TO POINT FINGERS
Key met the director-general of Health on Tuesday morning, to
receive assurances that the Hawke's Bay DHB was adequately
"They were able to put me in a position of making sure that all
of the appropriate Government support is being given to the people
of Havelock North," he said.
"There's been a range of different offers being made around
clinical support, to ensure there's enough doctors and the
It was too early to "point fingers". There would be an
inquiry, "and as I've said to the Ministry of Health, they've got
to be part of that inquiry", Key said.
Asked if he thought heads should roll over the incident,
he said: "I just don't know, I wouldn't want to
speculate on that."
The MP for Napier, Labour's Stuart Nash, said the incident was a
"crisis" the Government had failed to respond to.
"What Government response? That's the problem. This is a
disaster, it really is.
"We're talking about 1000 people that are ill, we're talking
about kids that can't go to school, we're talking about one person
that's died, we're talking about possibly the largest public health
disaster in a generation."
The MP for Tukituki, National's Craig Foss, said
residents had voiced anger about the council to him.
"People have raised all sorts of concerns about the issue with
me. It's specifically the Hastings District Council responsible for
water, but people have also come to me with their frustrations
about how we ended up where we are."