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Public Health England statement regarding events in Salisbury

Summary of public health actions and advice on the ongoing incident involving 2 people in Salisbury.


Latest update

The Chief Medical Officer and Public Health England’s (PHE) advice remains that the risk to the general public is low following the Salisbury poisoning incident.

This risk assessment is based on the full knowledge of the nerve agent used. No new evidence has emerged to change our advice.

PHE has been working closely with the police and national experts on chemical weapons since the start of the incident. The health effects of chemical exposures are generally related to the dose received.

It is clear that this substance can have a serious immediate effect on those who have a significant dose as we have seen in Mr Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, who are both currently being treated in hospital.

In contrast, the general public who were in the Mill Pub or Zizzi’s restaurant could only have been exposed to extremely small traces, if any. There will have been a huge difference between the dose those 2 patients received compared to anyone who happened to come into contact with low level traces.

We have issued precautionary advice for those who visited The Mill pub, between 1:30pm on Sunday 4 March and closing time at 11:10pm on Monday 5 March 2018, or the nearby Zizzi restaurant, between 1:30pm on Sunday 4 March and closing time at 9pm on Monday 5 March 2018. This is to remove the risk of repetitive exposure to potential trace amounts of the substance through washing the clothes and cleaning belongings they may have had with them. Washing will dilute it to such an extent that there will be no residual effect.

It’s important to note that no further cases of illness have been reported since the incident occurred on Sunday 4 March. We understand that people will be feeling unsure, but we are not seeing new cases of any members of the public being seriously ill.

The public’s safety is our number 1 priority. We are continually assessing the risks alongside the evidence to ensure that public health is protected.

See further information on what to do if you were in either location at the time.

Previous updates

11 March 2018

Dr Jenny Harries, Deputy Medical Director at Public Health England (PHE) said:

The immediate risk to the general public remains low and this has not changed.

Rigorous scientific analysis has been ongoing and we have learnt that there has been some limited contamination in both The Mill pub and Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury. Anyone who visited The Mill pub or Zizzi restaurant, where the 2 affected individuals were, can be reassured that this limited exposure will not have harmed their health to date. However, there may be a very small health risk associated with repeated contact with belongings which may have been contaminated by this substance. We therefore recommend that a precautionary approach is taken and advise people to clean the clothes they were wearing and any possessions they had with them.

Those who were in either location should:

  • wash clothing they haven’t already in the washing machine
  • any items which cannot be washed, and which would normally be dry cleaned, should be put in 2 plastic bags tied at the top and stored safely at home (we are currently reviewing the best way of cleaning these clothes and will provide further advice on our website)
  • wipe personal items such as phones, handbags and other electronic items with cleansing or baby wipes and dispose of the wipes in the bin
  • wash other items such as jewellery and spectacles which cannot go in the washing machine with warm water and detergent and rinse with clean, cold water
  • wash their hands thoroughly after cleaning any items

We want to reiterate that the immediate risk to those affected is extremely low and this is a precautionary measure.

7 March 2018

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

All known first responders have been contacted through their organisations and encouraged to seek further advice should they experience any symptoms. The sites recently visited by the 2 people affected have all been secured and PHE is reminding local clinicians of the symptoms to look out for.

Based on current evidence the risk to the wider public is low and it is likely that, had any member of the public been exposed to the substance, they would have presented with symptoms by now. However, anyone who was in the area and is concerned because they feel unwell, should dial 111 or 999 depending on the severity of their symptoms.

Published 7 March 2018
Last updated 13 March 2018 + show all updates
  1. Updated information on the incident.
  2. Change to the statement with updated information and link to further guidance. Out of hours forced published.
  3. First published.