Two more leave US’s Cuba embassy in ‘potential new’ sonic sickness cases

Geraldine Edwards
June 11, 2018

The U.S. State Department said on Wednesday it has brought a group of diplomats home from Guangzhou, China, over concern they were suffering from a mysterious malady that resembles a brain injury and has already affected U.S. personnel in Cuba.

China reaffirmed today that its official investigations had not found any evidence of alleged health problems of USA diplomats working in this country.

The State Department had confirmed earlier that one USA 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.

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State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert also said at the time that the Chinese government assured the State Department that it is investigating the symptoms felt by the USA government employee.

The development comes as the USA issues travel warnings to Americans in China after unexplained health issues there raised fears that problems detected in Cuba in 2016 have spread.

Doctors said in February that the symptoms among some 24 Havana embassy staffers were similar to those caused by concussions - headaches, balance problems, sleep disturbances and visual and hearing difficulties. It urged them "not to attempt to locate the source of any unidentified auditory sensation".

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China has said it had looked into the Guangzhou case but came up with no clues about the cause of the symptoms.

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

Two other officials say the individuals are being tested at the University of Pennsylvania. As of May 2017, when the State Department inspector general's office conducted its last inspection of the missions in China, nearly 900 Americans worked at them, including 168 who were hired locally. 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. There are about 170 USA diplomats or employees and their families in Guangzhou. There is a US medical team in Guangzhou assessing whether more people need to leave China, the Associated Press reported.

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