Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman has today expressed confidence in the way the Hawke's Bay District Council and the Hawke's Bay District Health Board handled the Havelock North water contamination and gastro crisis.
Speaking at media conference beneath the verandah outside a pharmacy in the Havelock North Village, Dr Coleman said he didn't believe there had been a need for Government to declare an emergency, but it could have if the local services were unable to meet the needs, such as clean water and medical resources.
He was speaking after two hours in Hastings and Havelock North including briefings with the District Council and Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule, and visits to two medical centres, including Te Mata Peak Practice in Havelock, which has treated many of the 4100 people earlier today estimated have suffered ill-health as a consequence of the E. coli seepage into Havelock North's bore-supplied water system last week.
But, standing with local parliamentary representative, Tukituki MP and Minister of Small Business Craig Foss, Dr Coleman said that with the rate of new cases decreasing, indicating the campylobacter outbreak is under control, Government would turn quickly steps to help those facing hardship as a result of the week's events, and setting terms for what he said must be a wide-ranging inquiry guaranteeing that such an event never happens in New Zealand again.
The Ministry of Social Development had already announced assistance which could be applied top appropriate cases, and the Cabinet will on Monday face a series of recommendations as to how assistance can be applied to small businesses which are reporting as much as an 80 per cent loss in trade.
The Labour Party candidate for Tukituki in next year's election, Anna Lorck, said: "Everything should be done to support not hinder Havelock North Govt being stubborn not declaring a water emergency. Get over the slow reaction earlier in the week and declare it.
This would allow more resources for people who are sick and in need and help businesses.
So much more should and can be done to help - everyone can work together and rally for our village community."