LONDON – A week after a retired Russian double agent and his daughter were poisoned by a nerve agent in the small city of Salisbury, British authorities on Sunday asked anyone who was near the spy that day to wash their clothes.
They also advised putting unwashable items in sealed plastic bags, washing their spectacles in warm water and cleaning their phones with baby wipes.
The advisory applies to people who visited two locations where the spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia spent time on March 4: an Italian restaurant and a pub. Shortly after leaving the pub, Skripal and his daughter were found unconscious on a bench. As many as 500 customers could be affected.
Four days after the Skripals were found, police announced that the two had been poisoned by an unspecified nerve agent, a category of lethal chemical that includes sarin gas and VX.
On Sunday, the chief medical officer for England, Sally Davies, said that trace contamination had been found at the pub and in the Zizzi restaurant.
The advisory said it was not necessary for people who had visited those venues to see a doctor unless they had symptoms. It also said that the risk to the public "remains low."
Chemical weapons experts in hazardous material protective suits have been deployed to five sites visited by Skripal and his daughter the previous Sunday: his home, the cemetery where his son and wife are buried, the restaurant, the pub and the bench where the two collapsed.
About 180 troops were called in to help clear the area, and the ambulance used for the two victims was wrapped in plastic and loaded onto a military transport vehicle.
Salisbury Journal reporter Rebecca Hudson said Sunday that residents are complaining that they had been kept in the dark about the risk."I think people are frustrated that this information has come out seven days on, when they've been told throughout that there's minimal risk," she said.
New York Times