A PRESS conference was held this evening at Salisbury District Hospital in response to a major incident in the city over the past 24 hours.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Craig Holden and the hospital's Chief Executive Cara Charles-Barks addressed reporters about an ongoing police investigation, as two patients remain in a critical condition.

Mr Holden said police were called to the Maltings in Salisbury at about 4.15pm yesterday, to reports of a man in his 60s and a woman in her 30s unconscious on a bench.

The Maltings was cordoned off as emergency services attended the scene, and the pair were taken to Salisbury District Hospital, where they remain in intensive care being treated for "suspected exposure to an unknown substance," Mr Holden said. 

He said Wiltshire Police are unable to ascertain at this stage whether or not a crime had taken place.

He said: "A major incident has been declared today and a multi-agency response has been co-ordinated.

“Alongside our partner agencies, we are conducting some extensive enquiries to determine exactly what led to these two people falling unconscious and clarify whether or not any criminal activity has happened.

“We would continue to appeal to any members of the public who may have information in relation to this incident to contact us immediately via 999.

"We would like to reassure members of the public that incidents of this nature are taken extremely seriously and we currently do not believe there is any risk to the wider public.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank members of the public who have assisted us so far and respected the cordons which remain in place.”

Mrs Charles-Barks added: "In terms of the impact on the hospital we have been advising people today to attend routine operations and outpatient appointments unless they are contacted by the hospital and this advice remains the same.

"Our Accident and Emergency Department is open, but busy as we are still seeing the effects of the weather. We are asking local people to use the walk in centre on Avon Approach for non emergency conditions. The walk in centre is open until 10pm and they will review their opening hours again tomorrow."