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Fast-breaking covid forces Hadlow to close

An unexpected covid outbreak has forced Masterton’s Hadlow Preparatory School to close its doors.

About 50 pupils and 11 staff have tested positive since Thursday, in the biggest outbreak to sweep the school since the pandemic began.

Principal Andrew Osmond said the covid wave came out of nowhere.

“We’ve moved to online learning this week as a circuit breaker after seeking advice from the Ministry of Education.

“It’s quite significantly larger than anything we had last year. The biggest outbreak we had was maybe 10 per cent of students at one time and two staff. This outbreak spread so fast, there must be a new strain that’s highly transmissible.”

With a large portion of the school out of action – up to 40 per cent of staff and 25 per cent of pupils – Osmond said it was a real shock to the new school year.

“We had a great start last week. Our first case tested positive on Thursday. Then throughout the weekend, more and more people tested positive.”

While the principal encouraged pupils to learn at home, the school had staff on site for those without childcare options.

Osmond – who has also tested positive – said the decision about when to open the school again would be made later this week.

He was not aware of any other Wairarapa schools with outbreaks.

Although St Matthew’s Collegiate has notified parents of its fellow Trinity School’s closure and told them to be aware of symptoms, the school remained open yesterday.

Wastewater testing showed the covid prevalence had increased in the past week [ending January 29] in Featherston and Martinborough. However, rates had decreased in Greytown, and no change was seen in Carterton and Masterton.

According to wastewater surveillance, the most common covid-19 omicron subvariants in New Zealand were CH1.1 [52.5 per cent], BA2.75 [31.9 per cent] and BQ1.1 [9.1 per cent].

Subvariant XBB, which caught international headlines for its nickname ‘Kraken’ accounted for 3.3 per cent of covid cases detected in wastewater. “We started the year without bubbles or masks. It’s been a rough start.”

He is not aware of any other Wairarapa schools with outbreaks.

Although St Matthew’s Collegiate has notified parents of its fellow Trinity School’s closure and told them to be aware of symptoms, the school remained open yesterday.

Wastewater testing showed the covid prevalence had increased in the past week [ending January 29] in Featherston and Martinborough. However, rates had decreased in Greytown, and no change was seen in Carterton and Masterton.

According to wastewater surveillance, the most common covid-19 omicron subvariants in New Zealand were CH1.1 [52.5 per cent], BA2.75 [31.9 per cent] and BQ1.1 [9.1 per cent].

Subvariant XBB, which caught international headlines for its nickname ‘Kraken’ accounted for 3.3 per cent of covid cases detected in wastewater.

In December, the Ministry of Health said: “Omicron subvariants detected in cases in New Zealand … have demonstrated substantial immune evasion in laboratory testing compared to prior omicron variants.”

Helen Holt
Helen Holt
Helen Holt is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age and enjoys reporting on a variety of topics, regularly covering Wairarapa events, tourism, local businesses, and the occasional health story.

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