A police officer critically injured responding to the Salisbury nerve agent attack is in a stable condition, authorities confirmed as the injury toll climbed to 21.
Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey rushed to the aid of Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who had been struck down by a toxic substance.
Wiltshire Police temporary Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said the officer was in a “serious, but stable, condition” and had since regained consciousness.
Counter-terror police are trying to pin down the source of the chemical weapon used against the 66-year-old ex-spy and his daughter, 33.
Both remain seriously ill in hospital following the murder bid on Sunday.
As uncertainty lingered over their fate, police said a total of 21 people had been seen for medical treatment in the aftermath of the incident.
The figure includes members of the public and emergency staff, some of whom have had blood tests as well as receiving support and advice.
It is feared that Mr Skripal – who was convicted in his home country for selling secrets to MI6 – was singled out for a state-sponsored assassination plot.
DS Bailey, meanwhile, was praised as “well-liked, well-loved, a massively dedicated officer” as he continued to recover from the attack.
He joined the force in 2002 and was commended in 2016 his work on a rape investigation.
Prime Minister Theresa May echoed the sentiment, saying the events served as a “stark reminder” of the dangers faced by emergency staff.
Mr Pritchard said in a statement: “I have visited Nick in hospital this afternoon and I can confirm that he is conscious, talking and engaging with people.
“He still remains in a serious, but stable, condition, but I am deeply relieved to have visited him and spoken with him in person.”
He added in an interview with Sky News: “Of course he’s very anxious, he’s very concerned. He did his very best on that night.”
It comes amid a flurry of activity in Salisbury, where police sealed off the gravestone of Mr Skripal’s wife Liudmila, who was buried in 2012, and the memorial stone of his son, Alexander, who was cremated last year.
They are located at separate sites in the London Road Cemetery, with each guarded by a police officer.
Hundreds of investigators, led by counter-terror police, are working to find out who is responsible for what is feared to be a sophisticated plot amid heightened tensions between Britain and Russia.
On Thursday night, an eyewitness said police had been searching a car at a vehicle recovery centre close to the Russian victim’s home earlier that day.
He described seeing around 10 people in hazmat suits looking at the vehicle, which was said to be a Mercedes people-carrier.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the use of a chemical weapon on UK soil was a “brazen and reckless act”, and the Government stood ready to act as a clearer picture emerged.
Russia has denied responsibility for the attack, which comes seven years after Mr Skripal was released from the country as part of a spy swap with the US.
He had been convicted in his home country in 2006 for passing state secrets to MI6.