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U.K. man exposed to Novichok is now conscious

"While this is welcome news, clearly we are not out of the woods yet," the Salisbury hospital said.
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LONDON — Hospital officials say they've seen an improvement in a man poisoned in a nerve agent attack in southwestern England.

Salisbury Hospital says Tuesday that Charlie Rowley has experienced a "small but significant improvement" and is now conscious. The 45-year old is in critical but stable condition.

The hospital says in a statement that "while this is welcome news, clearly we are not out of the woods yet. Charlie is still very unwell."

Rowley's partner, 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess, died after being exposed to Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent produced in the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Authorities were called to their home in Amesbury, England on June 30, where Sturgess had collapsed and then immediately taken to the hospital. On that same day, authorities returned to the Amesbury residence transporting Rowley to the hospital after he had fallen ill, police said.

Police have said the working theory is that their exposure was linked to the earlier Novichok attack in March on ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the city of Salisbury.

Samples taken from Sturgess and Rowley found that the two had been exposed to the nerve agent after touching a contaminated item, police said.

On Sunday, police issued a statement saying there had been no evidence that either Rowley or Sturgess had been to any decontaminated sites from the nerve agent attack on Skripal and his daughter.

Sturgess and Rowley's residence is seven miles from Salisbury.

Detectives have begun a murder investigation into Sturgess' death, according to London's Metropolitan police.