Cuba says cause of illness in United States diplomats remains mystery

11 June, 2018, 05:50 | Author: Carlos George
  • U.S. evacuates China staffers as illness mystery deepens

That word comes from three USA officials.

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

The incidents have raised fears the unexplained issues that started in Cuba in 2016 have expanded to other countries. U.S. officials have detailed how personnel in Cuba came to experience a variety of symptoms including sharp ear pain, headaches, ringing in one ear, vertigo, disorientation, attention issues and signs consistent with mild traumatic brain injury or concussion.

The "nature of the injuries suffered by the affected personnel, and whether a common cause exists for all cases, has not yet been established", wrote Pompeo on June 5.

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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A US official, who wasn't authorized to discuss the situation publicly and requested anonymity, said the evacuated American government workers were being brought from China for testing to the University of Pennsylvania.

The State Department has sent a medical team to China to offer medical screenings to all American government workers and family members who want them.

The Cuba incidents sparked concerns that the employees had been targeted with some novel sort of sonic attack, and similar reports this week in Guangzhou, China, have prompted several evacuations of diplomats and family members. The AP reported that out of the approximately 170 American staffers in the consulate, 150 have undergone the examinations.

The cases come at a sensitive time in relations between the United States and China, with the two nations locked in negotiations aimed at preventing a trade war and tensions over Beijing's claims to the South China Sea. The Canadian government followed suit in April and directed the families of diplomatic staff in Cuba to return home. There are about 170 USA diplomats or employees and their families in Guangzhou.

People working in The Canton Place complex, a few kilometers (miles) from the consulate, said Thursday they were just hearing about the incidents, reflecting a lack of coverage in China's entirely state-controlled media.

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