United States brings home group of diplomats from China after mysterious illness


A U.S. medical team is screening more Americans who work at a consulate in southern China, with the State Department confirming it has evacuated a number of government employees who experienced unexplained health issues like those that affected hurt USA personnel in Cuba and China.

The alert came after a U.S. government employee in Guangzhou recently experienced "vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure" and developed mild traumatic brain injury, the same condition United States officials developed in a serious of unusual events in Cuba.

On Wednesday, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said the employees were sent to the USA for a "further evaluation and a comprehensive assessment of their symptoms and findings".

Consulate in the southern city of Guangzhou were evacuated from China on Wednesday, after experiencing headaches, sleeplessness and nausea.

"By far, we have found no reason or clue that would lead to the situation reported by the U.S. side", ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

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.

Jinnie Lee, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing told The Washington Post in May that the Chinese government "has assured us they are also investigating and taking appropriate measures".

In 2017, 24 diplomats and their family members left Cuba after suffering from unexplained symptoms including dizziness, headaches, cognitive issues, and visual problems.

"If there's really a problem then the U.S. side can directly contact the Chinese side and communicate, and China will continue to conscientiously investigate and coordinate with a responsible attitude", Hua said.

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The cases in Havana were initially blamed on "ataques sonicos", or sonic attacks, and later referred to as "health attacks" after investigations by the FBI and Cuban officials failed to verify the use of a sonic weapon. Canada said the 10 continued to show unexplained brain symptoms and that "medical information raised concerns for a new type of a possible acquired brain injury". Following the incident, the US State Department issued a health alert.

The Penn team said the patients from Cuba experienced persistent disability though rehabilitation therapy customized for them seemed to help.

It presents symptoms and clinical findings that are similar to those related to concussions and mild traumatic brain injury, according to the department.

As a result of these unusual occurrences, the US and Canada have both pulled diplomats out of Cuba.

It was reported earlier this week that the State Department has established a dedicated taskforce to look into the "unexplained health incidents" with U.S. diplomats, which have become of a growing concern to the White House. It is also the only U.S. diplomatic installation in China authorised to process immigrant visas and handle adoptions.

An editorial in Beijing's state-run Global Times newspaper said: "Practically all Chinese people do not believe that this country's official organisations would carry out such sonic attacks against U.S. diplomats".

Aled Williams, a British teacher at a kindergarten said Thursday that the reports sounded "sci-fi-ish".

'For me I feel it's very odd.