Watch: Samoan Ministry of Health says nurses offered counselling after one-year-olds die after receiving MMR vaccine

The tragic death of two babies after receiving the mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) vaccine in Samoa last Friday continues to be under investigation.

Both a one-year-old girl and one-year-old boy died within minutes of being injected by nurses at Safotu Hospital in Savaii.

The deaths occurred within two hours of each other. 

"We now have a full scaled inquiry as ordered by the prime minister so the prosecution has taken over," says Ministry of Health chief executive Dr Take Naseri.

"They are going to work hand in hand with our forensic pathologists."

READ MORE: 'When I took my baby, she was strong and healthy' - heartbroken Samoan parents speak after deaths of two one-year-olds following MMR vaccination

He says the vaccines were obtained from UNICEF and there was a need to discuss "the procurement and quality" of them.

"We are looking at labs that can actually test the vaccines, there’s one lab in Australia," Dr Naseri told 1 NEWS.

"There’s also an immunisation expert down from our main office in the West Pacific region who has done previous investigations on vaccinations."

The two nurses who administered the vaccinations have since been removed from the "tense atmosphere" for their own safety.

"We are providing counselling, we advise them to go on light duty basis."

"We don’t want them to think this is a penalty for them," Dr Naseri says.

The MMR vaccine is recommended for all children in New Zealand, and the Ministry of Health says it has an “excellent safety record”.

Dr Take Naseri says the nurses involved have since been removed from the "tense atmosphere" after babies Lameko and Lanna’s died. Source: 1 NEWS



Black-market home-brew kills Sydney man

Black market home-brew is believed to be behind the death of a 57-year-old Sydney man, prompting a warning from police.

The man was admitted to Liverpool Hospital on September 11 after a fall and police were alerted.

His condition deteriorated through the week until he died on Tuesday.

"Investigators have been advised by health authorities that the man was suffering the effects of acute methanol poisoning, with a post mortem examination still to be conducted," NSW Police said in a statement on Wednesday.

The man was a regular drinker but not to excess, investigators have been told - and the alcohol may have been illegally sourced home-brew.

It's feared the alcohol, known as Rakia or Rakija, is being sold in the community.

Ten bottles of the alcohol have been seized from the man's home in West Hoxton Park and taken for forensic tests.

A report is being prepared for the coroner.

Group of home brew craft beer bottles
Home-brew alcohol (file picture). Source: istock.com


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More chlorination likely with water services set to be centralised

The Government is set to strip councils of their power over water following Havelock North's 2016 gastro crisis which was a wake up call for the country.  

Speaking to Water New Zealand's conference today, the Local Government Minister, Nanaia Mahuta, gave her strongest hint yet of change. 

Havelock North's gastro outbreak prompted a review of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater nationwide.

The estimated cost of ensuring drinking water is safe is $500 million, and to fix water infrastructure, at least $2 billion. 

"The Government doesn't have a bottomless pit of money to throw at this," Ms Mahuta said.

But water won't be privatised. Instead, services are likely to be moved into a national water regulator and responsibility for water service stripped from the 67 councils and handed to a small number of entities.

Water NZ chief executive John Pfahlert said that would mean "you get better quality water and it doesn't cost as much to provide". 

But change for the water industry is unlikely to be without controversy.

Any change is likely to see authority over water taken away from local councils, and Local Government New Zealand will not be happy about that.

"We would have issues if it was compulsory because we believe bigger is not always better. New Zealand is incredibly diverse from the Far North to the Deep South," said Stuart Crosbie of Local Government NZ. 

Twenty per cent of drinking water is unsafe - so a national agency is likely to mean more chlorination.

"It's there for a good public health reason. So it'll take time for the communities like Christchurch and Geraldine and other parts of New Zealand which have traditionally not had treated water, to get their head around that," Mr Pfahlert said.

Back in Hawke's Bay, the health board is studying the long-term impacts of the campylobacter outbreak.

John Buckley's family believe he could be the fifth victim of Havelock North's gastro outbreak.

The 78-year-old died three weeks ago of a stroke, but prior to the crisis, they say he'd been healthy.

"He's spent a lot of time in hospital. He's had a lot of unexpected surgeries and bleeds and heart problems, kidney problems, all due to the campylobacter," said Kat Sheridan, Mr Buckley's daughter.

Ms Sheridan says the family wishes, "you can turn your tap on again and trustfully drink the water. Surely that's all we want".

Before any changes can happen Cabinet will need to approve the recommendations made in the review of water management. 

It comes after Havelock North's gastro crisis was a wake-up call for New Zealand. Source: 1 NEWS

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Versions of synthetic cannabis in New Zealand up to 10 times stronger than strain that saw US 'zombie outbreak'

Experts are warning there are deadlier versions of synthetic cannabis available in New Zealand which are much more potent than the one which caused the so-called zombie outbreaks in the US.

The Government's been told two deadly types of synthetic cannabis are so potent they should be classified as class A drugs.

One of these drugs has been linked to a well-known case that rocked the United States in 2016.

"The concentrations we're seeing in New Zealand are much more potent than what we saw in the Zombie outbreak in New York," Health Minister David Clark says.

In some instances, the drugs found here were 10 times stronger.

The news comes after synthetic cannabis was linked to the deaths of at least 45 people since June 2017.

"I don't think we ever anticipated we'd get new synthetic drugs that would lead to so much harm," Drug Foundation Executive Director Ross Bell told 1 NEWS.

Synthetic cannabis is already illegal - but the maximum punishment for dealers is two years in prison.

Making synthetic cannabis a class A drug would put it alongside methamphetamine, cocaine, magic mushrooms and lsd.

This would mean the police would have more power and the penalties would be significantly tougher for dealers and users.

The Government says it will make a decision on synthetic drugs in the coming weeks.

They're calling for the drug to be classified as Class A – the most harmful and dangerous. Source: 1 NEWS


Reality show doctor and woman allegedly used 'good looks' to lure victims into California drug rapes

A California physician who appeared in a reality TV dating show and an alleged female accomplice have been charged with drugging and sexually assaulting two women, and authorities said today there could be many more victims.

Orthopedic surgeon Grant W. Robicheaux, 38, of Newport Beach and Cerissa Laura Riley, 31, of Brea were arrested September 12 after being charged with rape by use of drugs, oral copulation by anaesthesia or controlled substance, and other crimes, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told a news conference in Santa Ana.

Investigators were meticulously going through "thousands and thousands of videos and images on Robicheaux's phone, many also including Riley," Rackauckas said.

Some videos show women who "appear to be highly intoxicated beyond the ability to consent or resist, and they're barely responsive to the defendant's sexual advances. Based on this evidence, we believe that there might be many unidentified victims out there," he said.

The district attorney showed reporters video of Robicheaux from a now-cancelled Bravo TV show called "Online Dating Rituals of the American Male" in an episode titled "Three's A Crowd."

"We believe the defendants used their good looks and charm to lower the inhibitions of their potential prey," Rackauckas said, releasing an array of information about many locations and events associated with Robicheaux and Riley.

The defendants, who were released on $US100,000 bail, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Grant W. Robicheaux and Cerissa Laura Riley. Source: Associated Press