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Daughter of Russian double agent poisoned alongside father improving in hospital

Yulia Skripal was ‘improving rapidly’ after being exposed to the Novichok nerve agent while her father Sergei remains critical but stable.

The daughter of a former Russian double agent poisoned alongside her father in a nerve agent attack is now stable in hospital, doctors said.

Yulia Skripal was “improving rapidly” after being exposed to Novichok on March 4 in Salisbury, Wiltshire. Her father, ex-spy Sergei Skripal, remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital.

The BBC reports separate sources have verified Yulia is both conscious and talking.

The Metropolitan Police believe Mr Skripal and his daughter, who was visiting him from Russia, first came into contact with the deadly chemical at his home in Salisbury.

Detailed forensic testing revealed the highest concentration of Novichok was found on the front door.

The attempted murder investigation is continuing and, as a precautionary measure, police placed a cordon around a children’s play area at nearby Montgomery Gardens.

Police said traces of the nerve agent had been found at some of the other scenes detectives have been working at, but at lower concentrations.

Detectives will now focus their inquiries in and around the address, and specialist teams will step back from some of the other areas investigated over the past few weeks.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon said: “I would like to reassure residents that we have placed the cordons around the park, and officers will be searching it, as a precautionary measure.

“I would like to reiterate Public Health England’s advice that the risk to the public is low. Anyone with concerns regarding the ongoing police activity in Salisbury is encouraged to speak to the local officers or PCSOs at the locations, who will be happy to offer reassurance.”

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Around 250 counter terrorism detectives continue to work around the clock on the investigation (PA)

Mr Skripal and his daughter have been patients at Salisbury District Hospital since they were discovered unconscious on a park bench close to The Maltings shopping centre nearly four weeks ago.

Wiltshire Police Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, who was also exposed to the nerve agent, was discharged from the hospital last week.

Medical director Dr Christine Blanshard said: “I’m pleased to be able to report an improvement in the condition of Yulia Skripal.

“She has responded well to treatment but continues to receive expert clinical care 24 hours a day.

“I want to take this opportunity to once again thank the staff of Salisbury District Hospital for delivering such high quality care to these patients over the last few weeks.

“I am very proud both of our front-line staff and all those who support them.”

Early this week Viktoria Skripal, a niece of the former spy, told the BBC her uncle and cousin have only a slim chance of surviving.

She said the prognosis “really isn’t good” and revealed Mr Skripal’s mother had not been told of the incident.

Britain has accused Russia of being behind the poisoning – allegations fiercely denied by Moscow.

In turn, Russia has suggested that UK intelligence officers may have been involved in the poisoning.

The Kremlin allegation came as Moscow faced increasing global isolation, with at least 26 countries expelling a total of more than 130 suspected spies.

Britain insists there is no plausible alternative explanation for the attack and has dismissed the series of suggestions emanating from Moscow as nonsense.

Around 250 counter terrorism detectives continue to work around the clock on the investigation, which is expected to continue for months.

Officers are examining more than 5,000 hours of CCTV footage and 1,350 exhibits that have been seized, while 500 witnesses have been identified.

The London Road cemetery, where his wife and son are buried, The Maltings shopping centre and the Ashley Wood compound have been handed back into the control of Wiltshire Police.

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