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School closed after new gastro scare

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 22/08/2016

A Hawke's Bay school has been forced to close after finding E. Coli in its own private bore.

Haumoana School sent students home and disconnected its water supply after the discovery on Tuesday morning.

"Haumoana School increased the regularity of its water testing to monitor more closely the quality of water given the recent gastro-break (sic) in Havelock North," principal Jane Gallen told parents via Facebook.

"The Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health were immediately contacted to provide advice and support, and our Board of Trustees has recommended our school be closed today whilst our water is investigated."

The board believes the test may be a false positive, but want to be proactive in managing the situation.

Parents are expected to be notified on Wednesday morning when the school will re-open.

It comes just a day after the government announced its inquiry into how more than 4000 people were hit by the gastro outbreak linked to water contamination in Havelock North.

The Green Party wants to see the independent inquiry consider how land use affects drinking water.

Greens water spokeswoman Catherine Delahunty says the inquiry should have two parts - the immediate problem in Havelock North, but also how land use and water management contributes to E. coli and waterborne disease contamination.

She says E. coli and campylobacter have been reported in water supplies in other parts of the country in recent years, including Patea, Hanmer Springs and Christchurch.

Prime Minister John Key said the inquiry into the Havelock North contamination would be wide-ranging and its job would be to "get at the facts" of how it happened and how it was handled.

Mr Key said an appointment to head the inquiry would be made soon.

Meanwhile, the Hawkes Bay District Health Board says the outbreak is waning, with the number of people going to see doctors continuing to tail off.

Acting medical officer of health Dr William Rainger said there was some anecdotal information of people getting sick again, but this was likely to be a recurrence of symptoms from the original bug.

"All the evidence we are seeing, since the water was chlorinated, is that the outbreak is waning and there is no evidence of a second wave," he said.

A boil water notice remains in place for Havelock North until further notice

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