Published: Fri, July 06, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Dawn Sturgess: Novichok poison couple in Salisbury were 'turning lives around'

Dawn Sturgess: Novichok poison couple in Salisbury were 'turning lives around'

Police are on the scene Thursday where a man and woman were reportedly exposed to the Novichok nerve agent in Amesbury, England.

The UK's top counter-terrorism officer confirmed the couple's condition today, four days after they were rushed to hospital.

Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said the use of a deadly nerve agent in Salisbury was an "absolutely vile act of terror".

Skripal, 67, and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia, who was visiting from Moscow, collapsed on March 4 in Salisbury and were treated for an extended period of time before being released from hospital. Spire FM says the incident is "thought to have been a drug-related medical episode".

The exposure of two people apparently unconnected to espionage or Russian Federation has sparked fears that traces of the nerve agent remain in the area.

Javid said of the poisonous substance, "This has been identified as the same nerve agent that contaminated both Yulia and Sergei Skripal". Doctors say they don't know the long-term prognosis for their health.

He warned of an increased police presence in the area, which will include officers wearing protective equipment, similar to the activity earlier this year in the Skripal investigation.

"The possibility that these two investigations might be linked is clearly a line of enquiry for us."

About 100 counter-terrorism officers are working on the case and police have cordoned off at least five different areas in Salisbury and Amesbury.

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A friend of the couple, Sam Hobson, said after Ms Sturgess was taken to hospital, he and Mr Rowley went to a chemist in Amesbury to collect a prescription before going to an event at a nearby Baptist church. The other location has not been disclosed.

Developed in the then-Soviet Union in the 1970s, the paralyzing compound - which can be absorbed through the skin - had been placed on the Skripals' front door in what is widely considered to have been an assassination attempt by the current Russian state security agency.

She also urged people not to pick up any "unknown or already risky objects such as syringes".

"The eyes of the world are now on Russian Federation, not least because of the World Cup", British Home Secretary Sajid Javid said on Thursday.

A spokesman for the prime minister said the incident "is being treated with the utmost seriousness".

Basu, who is heading the probe, said there was no evidence to suggest that the pair "were targeted in any way".

"That is a theory, but it's speculation at the moment", he said. They were hospitalized in critical condition to a hospital in Salisbury, located some 13 kilometers from Amesbury.

The police chief insisted that there was "a low risk to the general public", but the apparent randomness of the contamination raises many unanswered questions for residents of Salisbury, which was only just returning to normal after finding itself the epicentre of worldwide tensions. The victims were later identified as Charles Rowley and Dawn Sturgess.

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