A MAJOR incident at Salisbury District Hospital this morning (Monday) is linked to a medical emergency in the city last night, police have confirmed.

The accident and emergency (A&E) department at SDH was closed this morning and the fire service was called in to decontaminate the area.

Two people collapsed in the Maltings shopping centre last night and were taken to hospital after they came into contact with an unknown substance.

Emergency services suspect the powerful drug fentanyl - a synthetic opiate 50-100 times stronger than heroin - may have been involved, but nothing has yet been confirmed.

Today two ambulance vehicles marked "incident response unit" attended the hospital.

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A green tent was set up outside and security guards turned people away from the department entrance.

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A triage unit was set up at the Nunton entrance to treat emergency patients.

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The cordon was lifted at around 11.20am and the department is now open again.

A spokesman for the hospital said it was dealing with "a major incident involving a small number of casualties, with a multi-agency response".

The hospital would not specify how many casualties had been treated.

It was the second time in 24 hours that firefighters had been called out to decontaminate an area of Salisbury.

Last night crews were called to clean up part of the Maltings after two people collapsed in a suspected drug-related incident.

A statement from Wiltshire Police said two people had been exposed to an unknown substance in Salisbury.

It said: "Police received a call at approximately 4.15pm yesterday regarding concern for the welfare of a man and a woman in The Maltings, Salisbury.

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"They were taken to Salisbury District Hospital and are being treated for suspected exposure to an unknown substance. They are currently in a critical condition.

"At this stage it is not yet clear if a crime has been committed and a multi-agency response has been co-ordinated.

"Police are carrying out a full investigation and working with partner agencies, to clarify the exact circumstances.

"At this stage, Wiltshire Police does not believe there is any risk to the wider public.

"Salisbury District Hospital is advising people to still attend routine appointments unless they are contacted.

"There are a number of locations in Salisbury which have been cordoned off in relation to this matter."

A Public Health England (PHE) spokesman said: "Based on the limited information available there doesn’t appear to be any further immediate risk to public health.

"PHE understands that those exposed to the substances have been decontaminated, as is standard practice in situations like this.

"Scientists from PHE’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, will continue to assist the response and review information as it becomes available."

The PHE spokesman added that the agency's specialists will join a "specially covened group" to consider the scientific advice required to respond to the incident. 

If anyone has any information regarding this incident, they should call Wiltshire Police on 999 immediately.

If anyone is concerned that they may have come into contact with the substance, we would advise that they contact NHS 111 for medical advice.

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