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PHE statement on incident in Amesbury

Latest information on Public Health England’s involvement in major incident declared in Amesbury.

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Latest update

In response to the latest police statement on the current situation in Amesbury and Salisbury, the risk to the public remains low. We have not seen any further cases of illness linked to this incident. As a precaution Public Health England (PHE) continues to strongly advise the public not to pick up any strange items such as syringes, needles, cosmetics or similar objects made of materials such as metal, plastic or glass.

The advice remains “if you didn’t drop it, then don’t pick it up”.

Novichok incident public advice leaflet

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Don't pick it up poster

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request an accessible format.

If you use assistive technology (such as a screen reader) and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email publications@phe.gov.uk. Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.

Read our public health matters blog to answer frequently asked questions.

Wiltshire Police have established a helpline which can offer further advice: freephone 0800 092 0410 or 020 7158 0124.

Previous updates

11 July 2018

Professor Paul Cosford, Medical Director and Director of Health Protection at PHE, spoke at the Amesbury public meeting on 10 July 2018. In his speech, he said:

Firstly, I’d like to express my sincere condolences to Dawn Sturgess’ family and friends at this very sad time.

We fully recognise that the residents in Amesbury and the nearby areas are concerned. We share their shock that this has happened in their community and are working side by side with other agencies to ensure they receive all the advice and support they need.

PHE’s role is to evaluate the information that we have and assess the risk to the public, based on what we know. We are working very closely with the police and other partners and we keep our advice continually under review as new evidence emerges.

We have not seen any further cases of illness since Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley became unwell and anyone who would have been exposed with significant exposure would be very sick by now.

The police have already cordoned off a number of sites in the area which could potentially be at risk. It is by using this information that we can say that the risk to the public in Salisbury and Amesbury remains low.

However, as a precaution, and as the Chief Medical Officer has said, I want to emphasise to everyone in the Salisbury and Amesbury area that nobody, adult or child, should pick up any foreign object which could contain (or may have previously contained) liquid or gel, in the interests of your own safety. This in practice means do not pick up containers, syringes, needles, cosmetics or similar objects made of materials such as metal, plastic or glass.

This is particularly important as we approach school holidays and so I am asking that people are extra vigilant and we urge parents to talk with your children to be sure they understand. To be clear: do not pick up anything that you haven’t dropped yourself.

You do not need to seek advice from a health professional unless you are experiencing symptoms. If you are concerned, you should call NHS 111. As before, you should continue to follow our advice and that of the police. Despite this event, PHE wants to stress that the risk to the general public remains low and there is no immediate health risk to anyone who may have been in the areas identified by police. As has already been mentioned, areas of Salisbury which have already been cleaned and are back in use remain safe.

Events of the past few days are shocking and very sad. PHE staff are working hard to ensure the community remains safe and that we encourage people to go about your daily lives as normal.

9 July 2018

Professor Paul Cosford, Director of Health Protection and Medical Director for PHE, said:

We would like to offer our sincere condolences to the family of Dawn Sturgess at this very sad time. We fully recognise that this news will cause great concern among residents of Salisbury and Amesbury. However, our assessment remains that the overall risk to the general public remains low.

As a precaution we still advise the public not to pick up any strange items such as needles, syringes or unusual containers and we would ask that you continue to follow our advice if you were in any of the locations identified by the police from 10pm on Friday 29 June. This is to wash your clothes in a washing machine and to keep your items double-bagged and securely fastened if they are dry-clean only.

7 July 2018

Professor Paul Cosford, Director of Health Protection and Medical Director at PHE, said:

Our current advice, based on the small number of casualties affected remains that the risk to the public is low. We will keep this assessment under constant review as further information becomes known. While there is no immediate health risk to anyone who may have been in any of the locations identified by the police, as a highly precautionary measure it is a wise thing to wash your clothes and personal effects. We also advise that people don’t pick up anything if you don’t know what it is. This is standard advice and has not changed.

We still advise that if you visited any of the locations identified by the police you should:

  • wash the clothing that you were wearing in an ordinary washing machine using your regular detergent at the temperature recommended for the clothing
  • wipe personal items such as phones, handbags and other electronic items with cleansing or baby wipes and dispose of the wipes in the bin (ordinary domestic waste disposal)
  • keep your items double-bagged and securely fastened if they are dry-clean only (further details will follow)

None of these actions should damage your washing machine.

Other items such as jewellery and spectacles which cannot go in the washing machine or be cleaned with baby wipes, should be hand washed with warm water and detergent and then rinsed with clean cold water.

Please thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water after cleaning any items.

You do not need to seek advice from a health professional unless you are experiencing symptoms.

Locations identified by the police include:

  • Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury
  • a property at John Baker House, Rolleston Street, Salisbury
  • a property on Muggleton Road, Amesbury
  • Boots the chemist, Stonehenge Walk, Amesbury
  • the Baptist church on Raleigh Crescent, Amesbury

5 July 2018

Mike Wade, Deputy Director of Health Protection for PHE South West, said:

Our current advice, based on the small number of casualties affected, is that the risk to the public is low. We will keep this assessment under constant review as further information becomes known.

While there is no immediate health risk to anyone who may have been in any of the 5 locations identified by police today (Thursday 5 July 2018), as a highly precautionary measure we are advising that people who visited the sites between 10pm on June 29 and 6.30pm on Saturday, June 30, undertake the following actions.

If you visited any of the 5 locations identified by police you should:

  • wash the clothing that you were wearing in an ordinary washing machine using your regular detergent at the temperature recommended for the clothing
  • wipe personal items such as phones, handbags and other electronic items with cleansing or baby wipes and dispose of the wipes in the bin (ordinary domestic waste disposal)
  • keep your items double-bagged and securely fastened if they are dry-clean only (further details will follow)

None of these actions should damage your washing machine.

Other items such as jewellery and spectacles which cannot go in the washing machine or be cleaned with baby wipes, should be hand washed with warm water and detergent and then rinsed with clean cold water.

Please thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water after cleaning any items.

You do not need to seek advice from a health professional unless you are experiencing symptoms.

Locations identified by the police:

  • Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury
  • a property at John Baker House, Rolleston Street, Salisbury
  • a property on Muggleton Road, Amesbury
  • Boots the chemist, Stonehenge Walk, Amesbury
  • the Baptist church on Raleigh Crescent, Amesbury

3 July 2018

Last night, Wiltshire Police and partners declared a major incident in connection with 2 people who fell ill in Amesbury.

PHE is working closely with both national government and local services to respond to this incident.

Mike Wade, Deputy Director of Health Protection in the South-West, said:

Our current advice, based on the number of casualties affected, is that it is not believed that there is a significant health risk to the wider public. We will keep this assessment under constant review as further information becomes known.

Published 4 July 2018
Last updated 13 July 2018 + show all updates
  1. Added latest update on the incident.
  2. Added poster promoting not to pick up unknown items.
  3. Added link to the Novichok incident advice leaflet for members of the public.
  4. Added update from Professor Paul Cosford.
  5. Added quote from Professor Paul Cosford.
  6. Added quote from Dr Paul Cosford.
  7. Added link to the public health matters blog.
  8. Added Wiltshire Police helpline phone numbers.
  9. Updated information on the incident to add the 5 locations identified by police.
  10. Updated information on the incident.
  11. First published.