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Couple in UK exposed to same poison as ex-Russian spy

iStock/Thinkstock(SALISBURY, England) -- Two people in England have been confirmed to have been exposed to the nerve agent Novichok, the same chemical weapon that was used against an ex-Russian spy earlier this year.

British police at Scotland Yard confirmed that the mysterious agent that appears to have caused a couple in their 40s to become critically ill was Novichuk.

The couple collapsed at a residence four days ago, The Associated Press reported. The couple were found collapsed eight miles from where the former Russian spy and his daughter were found after being exposed to the same agent four months ago, the AP reported.

Police first thought the couple, identified by friends to the AP as 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley, 45, were suffering as a result of using contaminated heroin or crack cocaine.

Back in March, Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were exposed to Novichuk.

Sergei Skripal was unconscious for a month after the attack and his daughter Yulia was unconscious for three weeks.

Novichok — which means "newcomer" in Russian — is the codename for a series of nerve agents that Russia allegedly secretly developed in the latter stages of the Cold War. Novichok nerve agents were intended to be more powerful and harder to detect than previous generations of nerve agents.

Russia has never officially acknowledged the existence of the Novichok program and most of what is publicly known about it comes from Vil Mirzayanov, a Russian scientist who worked for years in the Soviet chemical weapons program.

Nearly two weeks ago, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla visited the town of Salisbury, where the Skripals were poisoned, to show their support for the town's recovery.

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