Published: Fri, June 08, 2018

A medical mystery grows as USA consulate workers in China fall ill

A medical mystery grows as USA consulate workers in China fall ill

The U.S. State Department has sent "a number of individuals" from the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China back to the U.S. after screenings showed they may have been affected by mysterious health problems similar to what diplomats experienced in Cuba.

The entrance of the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China, June 7, 2018.

The State Department evacuated at least two more citizens who fell ill in China after hearing unusual noises, officials said. A spokesperson for the State Department confirmed to The Associated Press that "a number of individuals" had been brought to the US for further testing.

The US has pulled more staff out of China after they showed mysterious symptoms similar to those first reported by diplomatic staff in Cuba, which gave rise to reports of "sonic attacks".

A medical team had arrived in China earlier in the week to screen the officials and their families after a government employee became ill with "subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure" in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou in May. Since then, 24 Americans stationed in Havana have experienced dizziness, headaches, fatigue, hearing loss and cognitive issues, the State Department said.

The evacuation of the United States diplomats with mysterious illness comes at a time when the relations between Beijing and Washington were going through a tense phase as the two countries grappled to avert a trade war. The Americans in China were living in similar situations-high-rise apartment buildings occupied by other foreign workers and wealthy locals.

The Chinese foreign ministry said on Thursday that its investigation into the first case has not yielded any clues as to the cause of the incident.

Hua said the Foreign Ministry had not yet been formally informed by the USA government about the new cases, having only heard about them through media reports. We learnt this from the report of the New York Times.

'If the US makes formal contact with us, China will continue necessary investigations in an earnest and responsible manner and maintain close communication and cooperation with the US, ' Hua said at a regularly scheduled news conference. Ten Canadian diplomats and their relatives also suffered a odd illness.

Cuba has denied targeting embassy staff, and the U.S. has not blamed the country's government for the suspected attacks.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a task force to respond to the "unexplained health incidents". They are in addition to a USA worker in Guangzhou who was evacuated earlier, as the Trump administration had already disclosed.

In 2017, 24 USA diplomats and their family members in Cuba fell victim to mysterious "attacks" that left them with injuries resembling brain trauma.

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