An international situation has just become more complicated with the news that a couple is currently being treated for Novichok poisoning, the same potent nerve agent used on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, England, in March.
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.
After several months in the hospital, both Sergei and Yulia have recovered, but many questions about the perpetrators and their motives remain. Now, the plight of civilians Dawn Sturgess, 44, and Charlie Rowley, 45, of nearby Amesbury has unwittingly revealed that more Novichok may be out there. According to the BBC, it is theorized that they were exposed to the agent during a visit to Salisbury last week.
The incident began to unfold on Saturday, when paramedics were called to the couple’s home after Ms Sturgess appeared to have a seizure, foaming at the mouth and eventually collapsing. Later that afternoon, an ambulance returned for Mr Rowley, after he started rocking against a wall, sweating, drooling, and making strange noises, according to an account by his friend.
Police initially believed that Sturgess and Rowley were having an adverse reaction to illicit drugs, but on Monday, the couple continued to display worrying symptoms, prompting the hospital to send samples away for rushed laboratory testing. On Wednesday night, Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism chief Neil Basu issued a statement confirming that the analyses came back positive for Novichok.