A medical mystery grows as U.S. consulate workers in China fall ill

Larry Hoffman
June 8, 2018

"The State Department received medical confirmation that a U.S. government employee in China suffered a medical incident consistent with what other USA government personnel experienced in Havana, Cuba", the advisory read.

Many other employees at the US Consulate in Guangzhou are being tested, the New York Times reported on Wednesday, citing officials, by a State Department medical team that has been flown in. Now more cases have come to light, with "a number" of affected people sent to the United States for further evaluation, according to State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

More U.S. citizens have been evacuated from a U.S. consulate in Guangzhou, China, after suffering what appears to be the same unusual, sound-related illness that afflicted consulate workers in Cuba. Many of the Cubans I spoke with seemed confident the sonic attacks had been invented by the U.S. diplomatic community in Havana as an excuse to withdraw their staff in the face of rising tensions with Washington.

The team arrived earlier this week, and Nauert said the medical screenings were ongoing.

Vehicles pass by high-rise apartment buildings in The Canton Place where U.S. government workers experienced unexplained illnesses.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Thursday that as far as she was aware the Chinese government had not had any formal communication with US officials on any new cases.

The US Embassy in Cuba after the US government pulled more than half of its diplomatic personnel out of Cuba who suffered health problems due to an alleged sonic attack in 2017.

The latest round of evacuations, which began Wednesday in China, was the first sign that the unexplained ailments have now broadened and threaten to become a full-blown health crisis like the one that affected at least 24 diplomats and their families in Cuba. Former State Department officials and diplomatic experts have pointed to similar incidents causing permanent cognitive issues occurring against USA diplomats in Russian Federation during the Cold War. He was checked and diagnosed with a "mild traumatic brain injury", the State Department said in a statement.

The new illnesses in China come just weeks after United States officials reported finding their first case in Guangzhou, where a consulate employee got sick after reporting disturbing noises. Most of the incidents were accompanied by freaky, unexplained sounds that initially led US investigators to suspect a sonic attack. Some of the injuries, which also affected 10 Canadian diplomats and their families, resembled brain trauma.

The secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said the USA consular employee in Guangzhou suffered symptoms that were "very similar and entirely consistent with the medical indications of the Americans working in Havana". The Guangzhou 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. It is also the only USA diplomatic installation in China authorized to process immigrant visas and handle adoptions.

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