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Spy poison may have hit others

Three people complaining of symptoms consistent with the radiation poisoning that killed a former Russian spy last week have been sent to a clinic for tests, authorities said Monday.

They would not elaborate on the symptoms and said it would take a week before they knew whether the three had been exposed to polonium 210, the radioactive isotope found in the urine of the former spy, Alexander Litvinenko. But they said the danger to the public was minimal.

In order to fall ill, "you would need to ingest or inhale some of his body fluids," said Jill Meara, deputy director of the radiation protection division of the Health Protection Agency.

But 450 people called a special government hotline over the weekend worried that they had been in contact with Litvinenko.

Police do not seem any closer to solving the mystery of how Litvinenko was poisoned. They have not even said it was murder, despite Litvinenko's deathbed assertions that he had been poisoned by the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

An inquest into the death will begin in London on Thursday.