United Kingdom police speak to man poisoned with Novichok nerve agent

Charlie Rowley

Police officers on duty in Salisbury, England, as the investigation into the death of Dawn Sturgess, who died after being exposed to nerve agent Novichok continues on Tuesday.

"We have seen a small but significant improvement in the condition of Charlie Rowley", Director of Nursing at Salisbury District Hospital Lorna Wilkinson said.

However, the hospital treating Rowley said he was no longer in a critical condition and was now conscious.

Dawn Sturgess, 44, died on Sunday just over a week after she was exposed to Novichok in southwestern England, a few miles from where Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were attacked with the same poison.

Novichok first made headlines in March when it was used to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who both became critically ill.

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said in a statement this morning that he would need a forensic link to be definite.

Speaking at a packed public meeting on Tuesday night in Amesbury, Basu said his officers were working on the theory that Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley had found a object housing the nerve agent.

"This is a very rare substance banned by the worldwide community and for there to be two separate, distinct incidents in one small English county is implausible to say the least", Basu added.

But, he warned, it may never be possible to establish a definitive link.

Britain's public health authority acknowledged on Friday the concerns of people living in the area after the two incidents involving Novichok, but said it was confident that the risk to the public remained low.

"But the brutal reality is that I can not offer you any reassurance or guarantee at this time".

Basu has previously said that due to the high dose that Sturgess and Rowley received, the hypothesis was they must have handled a contaminated container. "I am hoping Charlie recovers and when he recovers he will be able to tell us and perhaps shed some light on it, which will narrow our search dramatically".

'We had dehydration problems in March, when it was cold, you can imagine how they're feeling now and they were spending about six hours in the suits in March - that's down to 15 minutes'.

The pair fell ill at Charlie's home in Amesbury on June 30, with anti-terror police launching a massive operation to find the source of the contaminant, which is believed to be inside a container.

Police officers guard a cordon in Salisbury, one of five locations in the city and Amesbury under investigation. Sturgess died in hospital on July 8 while Rowly remains in critical condition.

Glands also stop working properly and breathing becomes more hard.

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