British counterterrorism officials on Wednesday confirmed that two people found unconscious near the same site where a former Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned earlier this year were exposed to the same nerve agent, novichok, The Guardian reported.
British nationals Dawn Sturgess, 44, from Salisbury, and Charlie Rowley, 45, of Amesbury, are in critical condition in Salisbury district hospital, Scotland Yard assistant commissioner Neil Basu announced.
Paramedics were called to the couple’s home after the two collapsed on Saturday. The home is barely eight miles from where former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were exposed to the same nerve agent in March.
Police said they thought initially that the couple had taken contaminated drugs, but later testing uncovered the novichok exposure.
It is unclear whether the incidents are related and whether a crime had been committed.
The Wall Street Journal reported that senior British officials held an emergency meeting in London to discuss the incident, and will meet later again on Wednesday. British Prime Minister Theresa May is being regularly updated.
Police have also cordoned off five locations in Amesbury and Salisbury that the couple likely visited on Saturday.
“We are very aware of the public interest in this investigation and the concern it is understandably causing within our communities,” the Wiltshire Police said in a statement.
“Our priority at this time remains to understand the circumstances surrounding how these two individuals became unwell.”
Western officials blamed Russia for the March attack against Skripal and his daughter, but Moscow has denied involvement.
Skripal was released from the hospital in May, while his daughter was released in April. The two reside at an undisclosed location.