British man poisoned with Novichok regains consciousness - hospital

LONDON, July 10 (Reuters) - A British man poisoned with the Novichok nerve agent 10 days ago has regained consciousness and is now in a critical but stable condition, Salisbury District Hospital said on Tuesday.

Charlie Rowley, 45, was poisoned along with Dawn Sturgess, who died on Sunday, by the same nerve agent used in the attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March.

"We have seen a small but significant improvement in the condition of Charlie Rowley," said Lorna Wilkinson, Director of Nursing at Salisbury District Hospital.

"He is in a critical but stable condition, and is now conscious."

Police have said Sturgess, who was Rowley's partner, handled an item contaminated by Novichok in southwest England, a few miles from Salisbury where Skripal and his daughter Yulia were struck down.

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Two Britons poisoned with Novichok nerve agent near where Russian spy was struck down
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Two Britons poisoned with Novichok nerve agent near where Russian spy was struck down
Forensic investigators, wearing protective suits, emerge from the rear of John Baker House, after it was confirmed that two people had been poisoned with the nerve-agent Novichok, in Amesbury, Britain, July 6, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Deputy Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police Paul Mills addresses the media outside the Bowman Centre community hall, after two people were hospitalised and police declared a 'major incident', in Amesbury, Wiltshire, Britain, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Deputy Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police Paul Mills addresses the media outside the Bowman Centre community hall, after two people were hospitalised and police declared a 'major incident', in Amesbury, Wiltshire, Britain, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Police officers guard outside a branch of Boots pharmacy, which has been cordoned off after two people were hospitalised and police declared a 'major incident', in Amesbury, Wiltshire, Britain, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Police officers stand next to a section of playing field near Amesbury Baptist Church, which has been cordoned off after two people were hospitalised and police declared a 'major incident', in Amesbury, Wiltshire, Britain, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Sam Hobson, aged 29, talks to television crews outside Amesbury Baptist Church, after describing himself as a friend of the two people who were hospitalised, and as a result, police declared a 'major incident', in Amesbury, Wiltshire, Britain, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
A police officer stands in front of Amesbury Baptist Church, which has been cordoned off after two people were hospitalised and police declared a 'major incident', in Amesbury, Wiltshire, Britain, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Fire and Rescue Service safety equipment lies on the ground at the site of a housing estate on Muggleton Road, after it was confirmed that two people had been poisoned with the nerve-agent Novichok, in Amesbury, Britain, July 6, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Police officers stand in front of a housing development on Muggleton Road, which has been cordoned off after two people were hospitalised and police declared a 'major incident', in Amesbury, Wiltshire, Britain, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
A police officer stands in front of Amesbury Baptist Church, which has been cordoned off after two people were hospitalised and police declared a 'major incident', in Amesbury, Wiltshire, Britain, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Kier Pritchard speaks at a news conference at Antrobus House, after it was confirmed that two people had been poisoned with the nerve-agent Novichok, in Amesbury, Britain, July 5, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Police officers stand in front of Amesbury Baptist Church, which has been cordoned off after two people were hospitalised and police declared a 'major incident', in Amesbury, Wiltshire, Britain, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Police officers guard the entrance to a housing estate on Muggleton Road, after it was confirmed that two people had been poisoned with the nerve-agent Novichok, in Amesbury, Britain, July 5, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
A police officer stands in front of a housing development on Muggleton Road, which has been cordoned off after two people were hospitalised and police declared a 'major incident', in Amesbury, Wiltshire, Britain, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
A police officer stands in front of a housing development on Muggleton Road, which has been cordoned off after two people were hospitalised and police declared a 'major incident', in Amesbury, Wiltshire, Britain, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Police officers stand at a cordon around a public litter bin next to a supported housing project, thought to be connected to a man and woman from Amesbury who are in hospital after being exposed to an unknown substance on July 4, 2018 in Salisbury, England. The pair, who are in their 40s, are in a critical condition after being found unconscious at an address in Muggleton Road, Amesbury. The town is around 10 miles from Salisbury where former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in a suspected nerve agent attack. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - JULY 04: A police officer stands at a cordon around a public litter bin next to a supported housing project in Salisbury, thought to be connected to a man and woman from Amesbury who are in hospital after being exposed to an unknown substance on July 4, 2018 in Salisbury, England. The pair, who are in their 40s, are in a critical condition after being found unconscious at an address in Muggleton Road, Amesbury. The town is around 10 miles from Salisbury where former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in a suspected nerve agent attack. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - JULY 04: A police officer stands at a cordon around a public litter bin next to a supported housing project in Salisbury, thought to be connected to a man and woman from Amesbury who are in hospital after being exposed to an unknown substance on July 4, 2018 in Salisbury, England. The pair, who are in their 40s, are in a critical condition after being found unconscious at an address in Muggleton Road, Amesbury. The town is around 10 miles from Salisbury where former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in a suspected nerve agent attack. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills give a statement to the media outside the Bowman Centre in Amesbury, north of Salisbury, southern England, on July 4, 2018. - Two people have been hospitalised in a critical condition for exposure to an 'unknown substance' in the same British city where former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve agent earlier this year. British police declared a 'major incident' after the couple, a man and a woman in their 40s, were discovered unconscious at a house in a quiet, newly-built area in Amesbury. (Photo by Geoff CADDICK / AFP) (Photo credit should read GEOFF CADDICK/AFP/Getty Images)
AMESBURY, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Police officers stand at a cordon around an area of grass near to Amesbury Baptist Centre as Wiltshire Police declare a major incident after a man and woman were exposed to an unknown substance on July 4, 2018 in Amesbury, England. The pair, who are in their 40s, are in a critical condition after being found unconscious at an address in Muggleton Road, Amesbury. The town is around 10 miles from Salisbury where former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in a suspected nerve agent attack. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
AMESBURY, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Police on the scene outside an Amesbury branch of Boots pharmacy as Wiltshire Police declare a major incident after a man and woman were exposed to an unknown substance on July 4, 2018 in Amesbury, England. The pair, who are in their 40s, are in a critical condition after being found unconscious at an address in Muggleton Road Amesbury. The town is around 10 miles from Salisbury where former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in a suspected nerve agent attack. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Police officers on the scene outside Harcourt Medical Centre by Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury, thought to be connected to a man and woman in Amesbury who are in hospital after being exposed to an unknown substance on July 4, 2018 in Salisbury, England. The pair, who are in their 40s, are in a critical condition after being found unconscious at an address in Muggleton Road, Amesbury. The town is around 10 miles from Salisbury where former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in a suspected nerve agent attack. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
A police officer stands guard behind a housing estate on Muggleton Road, after it was confirmed that two people had been poisoned with the nerve-agent Novichok, in Amesbury, Britain, July 6, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - JULY 04: A police cordon is in place at Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury, thought to be connected to a man and woman in Amesbury who are in hospital after being exposed to an unknown substance on July 4, 2018 in Salisbury, England. The pair, who are in their 40s, are in a critical condition after being found unconscious at an address in Muggleton Road, Amesbury. The town is around 10 miles from Salisbury where former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in a suspected nerve agent attack. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - JULY 04: A police officer stands at a cordon at Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury, thought to be connected to a man and woman in Amesbury who are in hospital after being exposed to an unknown substance on July 4, 2018 in Salisbury, England. The pair, who are in their 40s, are in a critical condition after being found unconscious at an address in Muggleton Road, Amesbury. The town is around 10 miles from Salisbury where former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in a suspected nerve agent attack. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Forensic investigators wearing protective suits enter the rear of John Baker House, after it was confirmed that two people had been poisoned with the nerve-agent Novichok, in Amesbury, Britain, July 6, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Police cordon around Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury, Wiltshire, near to Amesbury where a major incident has been declared after it was suspected that two people might have been exposed to an unknown substance. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
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Novichok was developed by the Soviet military during the Cold War.

Britain and its allies blamed Russia for the attack on the Skripals, prompting a major Western expulsion of Russian diplomats. Moscow rejected the accusations and hit back by expelling Western diplomats.

The investigation became a murder hunt after the death of Sturgess, a 44-year-old mother of three, who lived in Amesbury, a town near Salisbury.

Her family paid tribute to her on Tuesday. "Dawn will always be remembered by us as a gentle soul who was generous to a fault," they said in a statement released by London's Metropolitan Police.

"She had the biggest of hearts and she will be dreadfully missed by both her immediate and wider family."

Police are working to establish whether the Britons were exposed to the same poison used in the attack on the Skripals.

They said late on Monday they were transporting a vehicle from an address in Swindon, about 30 miles (48 km) from Amesbury, in connection with the investigation.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Paul Sandle; editing by Stephen Addison)

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