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[Published: Thursday July 05 2018]

 British couple exposed to Novichok nerve agent

WILTSHIRE, England 5 Jul (ANA) - A man and woman found unconscious in Wiltshire were exposed to Novichok - the same nerve agent that poisoned ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal, police say.
The couple, believed to be Charlie Rowley, 45, and Dawn Sturgess, 44, fell ill at a house in Amesbury on Saturday and remain in a critical condition.
Police say no one else has presented with the same symptoms.
There was "nothing in their background" to suggest the pair were targeted, the Met Police said.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid will chair a meeting of the government's emergency Cobra committee later to discuss the developments.
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said it could not be confirmed whether the nerve agent came from the same batch that Mr Skripal, and his daughter Yulia, were exposed to.
But he said the possibility was "clearly a line of enquiry".
Mr Basu said no contaminated items had yet been found, but officers were putting together a "very detailed examination of [the couple's] movements" in order to determine where they were poisoned.
He added that members of the public should not pick anything up if they didn't know what it was.
"We have no idea what may have contained the nerve agent at this time," he said.
In March, Mr Skripal, a former Russian double agent, and Yulia were found slumped on a bench in Salisbury - about 10 miles from Amesbury - after being exposed to Novichok.
The two were critically ill in hospital for weeks but both were discharged in less than three months.
The UK government blamed Russia for the assassination attempt but Russia has denied any involvement and accused the UK of inventing a "fake story".(ANA)
FA/ANA/5 July 2018------

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