Police officer in poison sweep cleared after hospital check

Pauline Gross
July 8, 2018

A police officer is being treated at a hospital in the southern British town of Salisbury over concerns of potential exposure to the nerve agent Novichok, sources said on Saturday.

The incident comes a few months after former Russian double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned by the same nerve agent in Salisbury, just 5 miles east of Amesbury.

A local policeman, Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, fell seriously ill in that incident but later recovered, along with the Skripals.

"It's very hard to say how it would be linked unless you know something about the people who've become the casualties", Major General Chip Chapman, former head of counter-terrorism for the Ministry of Defence, said.

The police officer first attended Great Western Hospital in Swindon before he was transferred to Salisbury, it is believed.

It was unclear how the 45-year-old man and the 44-year-old woman came into contact with the nerve agent.

Wiltshire Police said on Twitter that the officer was medically cleared.

Fears begin to grow during the afternoon that the substance they have been exposed to is novichok - the nerve agent used during the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

They then stopped at for a meal at a Baptist church before returning to Muggleton Road, where Rowley fell ill as he was packing a bag to take to his girlfriend in hospital.

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Chemical weapons expert Hamish de Bretton-Gordon said the latest victims are likely collateral debris from the Skripal attack.

Scientists at the Porton Down defense laboratory concluded they had been poisoned with Novichok, a type of nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

"We would like to reiterate the advice from Public Health England that the risk to the wider public remains low", the spokesperson added.

An operation into the poisoning of Mr Rowley and Ms Sturgess is expected to take months as police examine more than 1,300 hours of CCTV footage.

Moscow hit back by expelling Western diplomats, questioning how Britain could know that Russian Federation was responsible and offering rival interpretations, including that it amounted to a plot by British secret services.

The couple became sick after "handling a contaminated item" and remain in a critical condition, according to Scotland Yard.

Russian Federation denied involvement in the first attack.

UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid called Thursday for Russian Federation to provide explanations after it was confirmed the couple hospitalized last week was exposed to the same nerve agent as Skripal and his daughter.

People who visited the areas cordoned off in the city over recent days have been warned to wash their clothes and wipe down any items they were carrying at the time.

Other reports by GizPress

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