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Man poisoned by deadly nerve agent regains consciousness

Firefighters with Breathing Apparatus arrive at the scene in Muggleton Road, Amesbury (Steve Parsons/PA) Photo: PA Wire/PA Images

A man left critically ill after being exposed to nerve agent Novichok has regained consciousness.

Charlie Rowley, 45, has made “a small but significant improvement” but still needs round-the-clock care, director of nursing at Salisbury District Hospital Lorna Wilkinson said.

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The news came after the family of his partner Dawn Sturgess, 44, who died after being poisoned by the chemical weapon, paid tribute to the mother of three.

In a statement released through police her relatives said: “Dawn’s death has been devastating for us. Dawn will always be remembered by us as a gentle soul who was generous to a fault.

“She would do anything for anybody and those who knew Dawn would know that she would gladly give her last penny to somebody in need.

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

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The couple both fell ill in Amesbury, Wiltshire, on June 30 after it is believed they handled a vessel containing the deadly substance.

On Tuesday Ms Wilkinson revealed that Mr Rowley’s condition had improved but “we are not out of the woods yet”.

“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,” she said.

“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.”

While the advice from Public Health England is that the risk to the public is low, Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies has warned everyone in the area not to pick up “any foreign object which could contain liquid or gel, in the interests of their own safety”.

Investigators in chemical suits work behind screens erected in Rollestone Street, Salisbury Credit: Yui Mok/PA

A massive counter-terrorism police investigation has been launched into the Amesbury poisoning.

The main line of inquiry is whether it is linked to the attempted murders of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in nearby Salisbury in March with the same nerve agent.

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the country’s most senior counter-terrorism police officer, said there would need to be a forensic link to definitively prove a connection.

But Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson waded in and directly blamed Russia for committing “an attack on British soil which has seen the death of a British citizen”.

Flowers at the scene in Rollestone Street, Salisbury Credit: Steve Parsons/PA

Tributes have been left at Rollestone Street in Salisbury, where Ms Sturgess lived.

One read: “We did not know you, we did not know your background. We do know we feel sad about what has happened to you.

“We feel very sad that your family will not see you again. You were having a nice day out with friends and it has ended in such a tragic situation.

“We are cross about the scathing comments. We don’t like how people have been. We are sending love to your family circle and friends.”

Central to the investigation are John Baker House, the supported-living accommodation where Ms Sturgess lived, Mr Rowley’s home in Amesbury, and Salisbury’s Queen Elizabeth Gardens, which remains cordoned off.