THE UK is no longer "measles-free" due to an increase in the number of cases.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced that we have lost the status after it found that there have been 991 confirmed cases in England and Wales last year, compared with 284 cases in 2017.

During the first quarter of 2019, there have been 231 confirmed cases of measles in the UK.

Public Health England issued a measles warning for Oxfordshire last July.

As a result, WHO say the disease is no longer 'eliminated' from the UK and transmission of measles has been re-established - three years after the virus was eliminated in the country.

Herald Series: Measles is a highly infectious disease which can only be controlled by vaccination.Measles is a highly infectious disease which can only be controlled by vaccination.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has now called for urgent action to boost the number of children and young people receiving vaccinations.

He will set out plans to improve vaccination rates - including for the measles, mumps and rubella jab (MMR) - on a visit to a hospital in the South West on Monday.

He has called for health leaders to renew their efforts to ensure 95 per cent of the population have had both doses of the MMR vaccine.

ALSO READ: Oxfordshire MPs call for 'urgent' rethink of PET-CT scanner call in

Currently only 87.2 per cent of children have the second dose of the jab, down from a high of 88.6 per cent in 2014-15, the lower uptake of which is thought to be partly behind the spread of measles, Downing Street said.

The Department for Health and Social Care will also deliver a strategy to address the issue in the autumn where the NHS is expected to be asked to use technology to identify who may have missed a vaccination and make booking appointments easier.

ALSO READ: New way to diagnose Alzheimer's before memory loss 

Ahead of the visit, Mr Johnson said he is "determined" to tackle the spread of the disease and that we "need decisive action across our health service and society to make sure communities are properly immunised."

He added: "From reassuring parents about the safety of vaccines, to making sure people are attending follow-up appointments, we can and must do more to halt the spread of infectious, treatable diseases in modern-day Britain."

Public Health England is leading a 'Value of Vaccines' campaign to remind people - new parents, school children and young adults - to get their two doses of MMR vaccine.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England, said: "Losing our measles-free status is a stark reminder of how important it is that every eligible person gets vaccinated.

"Measles is one of the most infectious diseases known to man - only one person travelling back to an area with lower vaccination rates can lead to an outbreak.

"Anyone who has not received two doses of MMR vaccine is always at risk."

Herald Series:

Health minister, Jo Churchill says social media companies need to do more to fight "misinformation" on vaccines following a "spike" in measles cases.

She said the Government will work alongside social media companies to make sure people have access to enough information to "help keep their children safe".

A leaked cross-government study yesterday revealed that the UK could see a drug-shortage once it leaves the EU.

ALSO READ: How to take part in NHS study

But Ms Churchill said the Government is working to make sure there are no shortages of drugs, including measles vaccines, following Brexit.

She said: "On the measles vaccine, there are buffer stocks in place and I don't see any issue with supply.

"We also saw last week the Secretary of State procuring an express freight service with the aim to secure transport for medical supplies within 24 hours."