“We know that it may be possible, as has been the case since the beginning of the year, that we have imported cases of measles, but we do not foresee a large outbreak as is happening in other European countries that have frankly low [vaccination] rates which are inferior to ours”, Rita Sá Machado told journalists.

Rita Sá Machado's comment comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Tuesday that more than half of the world's countries could be classified as at high risk of a measles outbreak by the end of 2024, due to the generalised increase in cases.

According to the WHO, the number of measles cases declared worldwide increased by 79% in 2023, to more than 306 thousand cases, compared to 2022.

“We are still one of the countries in Europe that really has good vaccination coverage rates that allow us, if there is an imported case, to stop the spread of the measles virus”, she continued.

On February 16, Portugal confirmed a new case of measles, in the Lisbon and Tagus Valley region, bringing the total number of cases registered since January 11 to nine, the DGS said in a statement.

According to the DGS, nine cases of measles have been confirmed since January 11: six in the North region and three in the Lisbon and Tagus Valley region.