Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Cornwall today to highlight a new campaign about measles immunisation.

He was at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro this morning after the UK lost its 'measles-free' status with the World health Organisation, three years after the virus was eliminated. During the first three months of this year there were 231 reported cases of measles in the UK.

Amid much secrecy over the location of his visit, demonstrators assembled at key points in the county, including outside the county's main hospital, the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro, as well as at Cornwall Council's headquarters County Hall, in the hope of catching him as he arrived.

The Prime Minister met medical staff and patients during a visit to the paediatric ward of the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro.

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Photo: PA

He was accompanied by ward matron Melanie Gilbert and met five other members of staff who work on the ward.

Mr Johnson asked about the number of children attending the hospital during the summer, when many are on holiday in the region.

"You see more on a sunny day?" he asked. "Sunburn, falling off ponies, candy floss injuries?"

He told them: "My father was born in Penzance hospital. I don't think they have a maternity unit there. It is all here."

The Prime Minister met patients including Logan Rock, one, who broke his leg on a family holiday to Cornwall.

Logan is now awaiting transport back to his home in Reading, as he must be taken by ambulance due to his broken leg.

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Photo: PA

Mr Johnson was visiting the hospital as it was announced that the UK has lost its measles-free status.

"The UK generally has a great record on fighting measles but for the first time, we're suddenly going in the wrong direction and we're seeing an increase of about 230 new cases of measles just in the first few months of this year," he said.

"I think there's a couple of reasons.

"I think there's complacency on the part of parents about the need to get that second vaccine but also, I'm afraid, people have been listening to that superstitious mumbo jumbo on the internet, all that anti-vax stuff and thinking that the MMR vaccine is a bad idea. That's wrong.

"Please get your kids vaccinated because it's not just the right thing for them, but also of course it is the right thing for the whole population because it might not be your kid that gets it, it could be somebody else's."

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Photo: PA

His visit came as figures released by Downing Street show that only 87 per cent of children now have the full dose of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab, which is is believed could have contributed to the spread of the disease.

Speaking ahead of his visit, Mr Johnson described it as a "global challenge" and that action was needed to make sure proper immunisation took place, adding: "One case of this horrible disease is too many."

The vaccine has fallen out of favour with some parents over fears of potential side-effects - something that medical professionals universally say are false, with medical evidence to support that.

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The Red Rebel Brigade carry out a demonstration over climate change as Mr Johnson's car drives past at the hospital. Photo: James Pearce

As part of the new campaign parents will be offered advice to address any such concerns, while social media companies will be encouraged to promote accurate information.

  • This story has been updated since it was confirmed that some media were invited.