Detectives investigating how two people were exposed to the nerve agent Novichok in Amesbury, Wiltshire have today, 6 July, released further details of their movements prior to them falling ill on Saturday, 30 June.
The 45-year-old man and 44-year-old woman, who are both British nationals and from the local area, remain critically ill in hospital today (Friday, 6 July). Family liaison officers are also in place and working to support their next of kin.
This complex and fast-moving investigation involves around 100 detectives from the Counter Terrorism Network who are working around the clock alongside colleagues from Wiltshire Police.
Due to the unique challenges involved with this operation, police activity is expected to take weeks and months to complete.
The focus of the investigation remains identifying the source of the contamination as quickly as possible. As part of this, detectives have been making a number of enquiries to trace the precise movements of the man and woman in the period prior to them falling ill.
Officers have identified and spoken to several key witnesses and are trawling through more than 1,300 hours of CCTV footage which has been collected so far.
From their enquiries to date, detectives have been able to piece together the following timeline of the man and woman's movements prior to them falling ill on Saturday, 30 June.
Friday, 29 June:
+ At around 12:20hrs the man and woman are together at John Baker House in Salisbury.
+ They then leave that venue and visit a number of shops in Salisbury before going to Queen Elizabeth Gardens.
+ They return to John Baker House at around 16:20hrs before catching a bus to Amesbury at approximately 22:30hrs. In the absence of any information to the contrary at this stage, detectives are currently working on the basis that they then spent the night at an address on Muggleton Road, Amesbury.
Saturday, 30 June:
+ At 10:15hrs, the South West Ambulance Service are called to an address on Muggleton Road, where the 44-year-old woman had been taken ill, and she was subsequently taken to hospital. The man was also present at the address at this time.
+ At around midday, the man visits Boots the chemist on Stonehenge Walk in Amesbury and then returns to his address in Muggleton Road around half an hour later.
+ At around 13:45hrs he visits the Amesbury Baptist Centre on Butterfield Drive and again returns home at around 15:00hrs.
+ At 18:20hrs the South West Ambulance Service are called back to the address on Muggleton Road and the man is also taken to hospital.
A number of sites have been cordoned off in the Salisbury and Amesbury areas. These are believed to be the areas the man and woman visited before they fell ill. This is a precautionary measure and meticulous and systematic searches of these areas are now under way.
Officers are wearing protective equipment as they carry out their activity and protective barriers may also be installed at some of these sites.
There is no evidence that the man and woman visited any of the sites that were decontaminated following the attempted murders of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in March this year. We are not in a position to say whether the nerve agent was from the same batch that the Skripals were exposed to.
The investigation into the attempted murders of the Skripals is ongoing as detectives continue to assess all the evidence available.
The possibility that the two investigations might be linked is clearly a key line of inquiry for police. However, Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu stressed on Wednesday, 4 July, the importance of the investigation being led by the evidence available and the facts alone.
We would like to thank the people of Salisbury and Amesbury for their continued support and understanding. We are renewing our appeal for anyone who may have information that could assist with this investigation to contact police on 0800 789 321.
Anyone with health concerns should follow the advice provided by Public Health England or call the dedicated helpline on 0800 092 0410 or 020 7158 0124.
The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down confirmed to police on Wednesday, 4 July that the man and woman had been exposed to Novichok.
At this time, it remains that no-one else has presented with the same symptoms linked to this incident.
Following further tests of samples from the patients, we now know that they were exposed to the nerve agent after handling a contaminated item.