Health scare as 500 people told to wash their clothes, phones and glasses a week after nerve agent attack on Russian spy Sergei Skripal

British health authorities said up to 500 people who visited the contaminated Zizzi restaurant and The Mill pub should wash their possessions amid a public health scare.

Chief medical officer for England Dame Sally Davies said there was concern that "long term exposure to these substances may over weeks, and particularly months, give rise to health problems."

She advised a "belt and braces approach" to anyone who was in The Mill pub between 1.30pm last Sunday and 11.10pm on Monday, or the nearby Zizzi restaurant between 1.30pm on Sunday and 9pm on Monday.

Punters were told to scrub personal items such as phones, handbags and jewellery with cleaning or baby wipes.

Public Health England issued the advice as a precaution, but said the risk to the general public remains "low".

The BBC reported that traces of the poison had been found at the Italian restaurant where the father and daughter had a meal before they were found unconscious last Sunday, in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

The restaurant has been closed to the public since Sunday, with  investigators in hazard gear combing key sites for clues.

Police charged a man with breaching one of the cordons. Local man Jamie Knight, 30, is accused of entering the site on The Maltings on Friday evening.

He was charged with assaulting a police officer, common assault, criminal damage to a police vehicle and a racially aggravated public order offence.

Jenny harries, of Public health England, said: "The immediate risk to the general public on evidence we had remains low… that has not changed. The news doesn't alter that risk…

"We have had rigorous scientific analysis and found some limited contamination in Zizzi and Mill Pub…

"This limited exposure will not have harmed their health to date.

"But there may be a very small health risk associated with repeated contact with belongings which may have been contaminated by this substance."

There is also no suggestion that anyone dining at the time had anything to do with the nerve agent.

It comes as chemical experts are reported to be probing whether flowers taken by the former spy to his wife's grave were laced with poison.

A "a highly placed source" told the Daily Mail that one line of inquiry is that the bouquet may have been laced with poison.

This possibility is centred on if the flowers were sent to the former double agent's home by whoever targeted him accompanied by a card to suggest they came from a friend of his wife and a request to take them to the cemetery.

Yesterday, Sergeant Nick Bailey , 38, – who fell critically ill after coming into contact with the nerve agent – said he 'does not consider himself a hero.'

A Wiltshire Police spokesman said: "Nick would like us to say on his behalf that he and his family are hugely grateful for all the messages of support from the public, and colleagues from the police family.

"He wants to say that he does not consider himself a ‘hero’, he states he was merely doing his job."

Counter terrorism police investigating the suspected nerve agent attack have identified over 200 witnesses and are looking at more than 240 pieces of evidence, Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said.

Following a meeting of the government’s Cobra committee, she said there were more than 250 counter terrorism police involved in the investigation which was proceeding with “speed and professionalism”.

Russian double agent Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia are still fighting for their lives after being exposed to a toxic substance in the Wiltshire city last Sunday.

Suspicion is mounting that Russia carried out the attempt on their lives as an act of revenge against the former intelligence officer, who was convicted in 2006 of selling state secrets to MI6.

The Kremlin denies responsibility and British ministers have urged caution over apportioning blame until the facts become clear.

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