LONDON – British police say there is no evidence that the nerve agent Novichok was involved in the case of two people who became ill in a Salisbury restaurant, but the premises remain closed off.
Wiltshire Police said Monday that the two people who fell ill at an Italian restaurant have been clinically assessed and there was no evidence of Novichok.
Authorities responded with extreme caution on Sunday in light of the March poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury and the subsequent poisoning of two others who came into contact with Novichok.
The illnesses were treated as a major incident until it became clear Novichok was not involved. Police set up a large cordon that was later greatly reduced.
Police have not released the names of the two diners, a man in his 40s and a woman in her 30s. Both remain hospitalized.
British officials blame the Russian government for the Novichok attack. The U.K. has charged two suspects and said they worked for a Russian military intelligence unit.
The two men went on Russian TV last week and said they were only tourists who had visited Salisbury to see its famous cathedral.
The Novichok poisonings have left authorities extremely skittish because there are no firm assurances all of the nerve agent has been found and removed.
Salisbury City Council leader Matthew Dean tweeted that there had been “a number of false alarms since the Skripal poisoning.”
He said it was correct for emergency service personnel to start with a “highly precautionary approach until they know otherwise.”