Amesbury poisoning victims fell ill after handling contaminated item

A police officer stands guard outside a residential address in Amesbury a man and woman were found unconscious

The pair remain in critical condition after being rushed on Saturday to Salisbury District Hospital, the same hospital that treated former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia who were poisoned in March.

The incident has reignited the diplomatic row over the Skripal poisoning between Britain and Russian Federation, who Prime Minister Theresa May blamed for the attack. The Daily Beast points to quotes from a Kremlin spokesman, denying Russian involvement, and the deputy speaker of Russia's lower house of the parliament, accusing Britain of trying to spoil soccer fans positive reactions to the World Cup tournament.

Making clear that the United Kingdom will "stand up to the actions that threaten our security", he added: "It is completely unacceptable for our people to be either deliberate or accidental targets, or for our streets, our parks, our towns, to be dumping grounds for poison".

Vil Mirzayanov, a Soviet scientist who worked on the development of Novichok before defecting to the United States, said that if the Amesbury couple were infected by material left over from the Skripals incident, it is unlikely the agent was exposed to the elements because it retained enough potency to cause harm.

The source said Russian Federation was likely to launch "significant" efforts to "confuse the public" after the latest incident. "We're working extremely hard to try to understand the circumstances, the chronology".

"The possibility that these two investigations might be linked is clearly a line of inquiry for us", Neil Basu, head of Britain's counter-terrorism police force, told reporters on Wednesday.

Sajid Javid gave the latest report on the two people found unresponsive in the town of Amesbury.

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The search to determine the means and locations of the latest exposure has compelled police to close off additional locations around Wiltshire, including a pharmacy, a park, a church and several areas in Salisbury such as Queen Elizabeth Gardens and a homeless shelter.

His remarks come as Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley fight for their lives in hospital after they were exposed to the chemical weapon Novichok.

The Skripals' illness initially baffled doctors after they were found unconscious on a park bench in Salisbury in March.

Prime Minister Theresa May subsequently pointed the finger of blame at agents working for Vladimir Putin's Russian Federation.

Meanwhile, UK police say they are investigating whether there is a link between the two cases.

Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said the use of a deadly nerve agent in Salisbury was an "absolutely vile act of terror".

One senior Government source said: "They [investigators] have been unable to ascertain the item used to deposit and it's possible the pair have come into contact with that item".

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