British man exposed to novichok 'conscious but not out of the woods yet'

Officials say Charlie Rowley still requires "specialist, round-the-clock care"

British man exposed to novichok 'conscious but not out of the woods yet'

File photo. Picture by: Steve Parsons/PA Wire/PA Images

There has been a 'small but significant' improvement in the condition of a man exposed to the nerve agent novichok in England, officials say.

45-year-old Charlie Rowley is conscious, although his condition remains 'critical but stable'.

Mr Rowley's partner - 44-year-old Dawn Strugess - died on Sunday, having also fallen ill after exposure to novichok.

A number of sites in the towns of Amesbury and Salisbury are being examined as police work to discover how exactly the couple came in contact with the nerve agent.

In an update today, Lorna Wilkinson - director of nursing at Salisbury District Hospital said: "We have seen a small but significant improvement in the condition of Charlie Rowley. 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."

Incident

Both Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess were hospitalised after falling ill on Saturday.

Six sites visited by the couple in the lead-up to their illness - including Mr Rowley's home, a chemist and a baptist church - have been sealed off as part of the investigation.

Earlier this year, novichok was used in an attack against former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury.

The British government has repeatedly blamed Russia for the 'attempted murder' in Salisbury - claims Moscow has vehemently denied.

The Skripals were both hospitalised for weeks after the poisoning, but have since been discharged.

Work is now continuing to find out whether that attack and the recent incident are linked.

It is not believed Mr Rowley and Ms Sturgess were targeted, with police - who have launched a murder investigation - suggesting they may have been exposed to novichok after 'handling a container'.

Health officials have urged people in Salisbury and Amesbury to not pick up any 'foreign object which could contain liquid or gel' - but have also been advised it is 'perfectly okay' to carry on with life as normal.

Ms Sturgess' family has released a statement saying her death was "devastating" and that she was a "gentle soul who was generous to a fault".

They also wished Mr Rowley a "speedy recovery".

Additional reporting by IRN