UK Health Officials: Public Risk 'Low' After Poisoning of Former Russian Spy
(VOA): British health officials said Sunday that traces of a nerve agent used in the suspected attempted murder of a Russian spy in Britain were found in a pub and restaurant he visited, but that the risk to public health remains low.
Health officials said those who visited the Mill pub and Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury, southwest England on March 4 and March 5 should take “simple” precautions, including washing their clothes.
“While there is no immediate health risk to anyone who may have been in either of these locations, it is possible, but unlikely, that any of the substance which has come into contact with clothing or belongings could still be present in minute amounts and therefore contaminate your skin. Over time, repeated skin contact with contaminated items may pose a small risk to health,” a statement released by Public Health England read.
Hospital officials in Salisbury said there is no evidence of a wider attack on the town, aside from three people who have been hospitalized since the attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, both of whom are hospitalized in critical condition.
Police have not publicly talked about the nerve agent that poisoned Skripal or who might have been responsible. But suspicions are pointing to Russia.
British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said Britain is being “pushed around” by the Kremlin.
Prime Minister Theresa May has promised an “appropriate” response if it is discovered that Russia is responsible for poisoning Skripal, but has urged caution.
Russian officials deny the Kremlin had anything to do with the assassination attempt.
Skripal served in Russia's military intelligence agency, GRU, and was exchanged in a spy swap in 2010 on the runway at Vienna's airport.
After serving four years imprisoned in Russia for spying for Britain's espionage service, MI6, Skripal was one of four Russian double agents exchanged for 10 Russians expelled from the United States.
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