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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 4, 2002 – Radio Australia)---Twenty-four more students have been hospitalized as a result of a continuing measles epidemic in East Sepik province.

Radio Australia correspondent Dulciana Somare reports that all students have been sent home from Marprik High School to help contain the outbreak.

"A measles outbreak at Maprik High School in East Sepik province has forced 24 students into the local hospital and school authorities have suspended classes, sending 600 boarding and day students home.

"Maprik district health inspector Caspar Himinia said other students are showing measles symptoms.

"School authorities fear the rapid spread of the disease, pointing to the deteriorating state of the school facilities as a serious health risk.

"The measles outbreak has ravaged the Western Highlands region for over five months, claiming the lives of more than 100 children last month (May) at Mount Hagen General Hospital.

"Another 53 Mt. Hagen children died in April from the outbreak.

"Local hospital authorities claim that a medical staff shortage continues to pose serious problems.

"More than 1,200 measles patients were admitted to the hospital between January and April alone.

"Dulciana Somare, Radio Australia, Port Moresby."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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