Novichok nerve agent victim regains consciousness | News | DW | 10.07.2018
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Novichok nerve agent victim regains consciousness

British man Charlie Rowley, who was poisoned by the Novichok nerve agent 10 days ago, has regained consciousness but remains in critical condition. His partner Dawn Sturgess, who was also poisoned, died on Sunday.

Novichok poison victim Charlie Rowley regained consciousness on Tuesday and is now in a critical but stable condition, Salisbury District Hospital announced.

Rowley, 45, and his partner Dawn Sturgess were exposed 10 days ago to Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Sturgess died as a result of her exposure on Sunday.

Police said the pair came into contact with the toxin after Sturgess handled a highly contaminated item in the town of Amesbury, just a few miles from Salisbury where nominally retired Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in March.

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"We have seen a small but significant improvement in the condition of Charlie Rowley," Director of Nursing at Salisbury District Hospital Lorna Wilkinson said. "He is in a critical but stable condition, and is now conscious.

"While this is welcome news, clearly we are not out of the woods yet. Charlie is still very unwell and will continue to require specialist, round-the-clock care here at Salisbury District Hospital."

The pair were found collapsed at Sturgess' Amesbury home on June 30. Police initially believed the two had consumed a contaminated batch of illegal drugs but further testing showed they had been exposed to Novichok.

Read more: Salisbury struggles with Skripal poisoning infamy as tourists stay away

Defense Secretary blamed Russia in Commons

The death of Sturgess, a 44-year-old mother of three, on Sunday transformed the investigation into a potential murder investigation.

The UK government blamed Russia for the poisoning of the Skripals back in March, which led to expulsion of Russian diplomats from several western embassies. Moscow has strongly denied any responsibility and hit back by expelling a spate of western diplomats.

Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson on Monday told parliament that Brtiain also held Russia accountable for the poisoning of Sturgess and Rowley.

Following the latest poisoning in Amesbury, British counter terrorism police have been scrambling to establish whether any other citizens may have been exposed to nerve agent. On Monday, police said they had transported a van from Swindon, around 30 miles (48 km) from Amesbury, in connection with the investigation.

Read more: Sergei Skripal: poisoned ex-spy discharged from hospital

England's Chief Medical Officer Sally Davies warned Salisbury and Amesbury residents on Tuesday that they should not "pick up any foreign object which could contain liquid or gel, in the interests of their own safety".

In a statement on Tuesday, Sturgess's family paid tribute to the late mother of three, calling her "a gentle soul who was generous to a fault."

dm/msh (Reuters, AFP)

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