US embassy's latest China health alert revives fears of 'mystery weapon'

11 June, 2018, 00:53 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
  • U.S. evacuates China staffers as illness mystery deepens

The U.S. State Department on Friday issued an expanded health alert for all of China amid reports some U.S. diplomats based in the country had experienced a mysterious malady that resembles a brain injury and has already affected U.S. personnel in Cuba.

"The State Department received medical confirmation that a US government employee in China suffered a medical incident consistent with what other USA government personnel experienced in Havana, Cuba", the statement said, reiterating comments made last month by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The State Department had confirmed earlier that one US employee assigned to the consulate in Guangzhou had "suffered a medical incident", and that it had deployed a team to screen employees and family members there.

U.S. evacuates China staffers as illness mystery deepens

Eighteen of them reported hearing an intense sound before the onset of symptoms; some also reported feeling unusual vibrations, such as the sensation in a moving vehicle when the windows are partly rolled down. The United States has said it doesn't know who is behind it, but has argued Cuba is responsible for protecting all diplomats on its soil.

Several other American workers at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou have reported similar symptoms, but the exact number of people who exhibited symptoms or are medically treated are unclear, as stated in the New York Times.

Cuba said it remained ready to work with the United States to determine what, if anything, was causing the illnesses after its own investigation had uncovered no evidence of foul play.

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That's where doctors have been treating and studying patients previously evacuated from the U.S. Embassy in Havana.

The symptoms are similar to those exhibited by US personnel in Cuba after they heard odd noises in an apparent sonic attack.

Asked about the reported China incidents, Penn Medicine said it could not reveal results of any patient evaluations.

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Asked about the latest incidents, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the USA had not formally raised the matter with Beijing.

The department is urging government workers to seek medical attention if they begin experiencing symptoms such as dizziness, headaches or a ringing in the ears. The AP reported that out of the approximately 170 American staffers in the consulate, 150 have undergone the examinations. There are about 170 USA diplomats or employees and their families in Guangzhou. Most of the incidents were accompanied by freaky, unexplained sounds that initially led US investigators to suspect a sonic attack. The consulate opened months after the establishment of diplomatic relations between Beijing and Washington in 1979 and moved to its new purpose-built facility in 2013.

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