Two more U.S. diplomats in China hit by mysterious illness, reports say

Sergio Conner
June 8, 2018

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

One path would be for the United States to suggest that the two countries conduct a joint investigation, they added.

At least two of the people sent home reported "hearing odd noises in China", according to the New York Times.

An employee first fell sick last month in China, and now another employee, his wife and their two children were evacuated after the adults showed signs of neurological symptoms.

"Beijing has already conducted an investigation and dismissed concerns, with Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang saying last month, "[So] far, we have found no reason or clue for what was reported by the USA".

"As for the latest incident, my understanding is that the U.S. side hasn't had any formal communication with the Chinese side about it", foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing. "If there is really some problem, USA can directly connect and communicate with China and China will adopt a responsible attitude to investigate this", she said. "We will maintain communication with the United States on this".

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There are still no answers to the mystery behind the brain injury sustained in the first case, although US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on May 23 it was "very similar and entirely consistent with the medical indications that have taken place to Americans working in Cuba".

On May 23, the US State Department had said that one of the workers at its Consulate in Guangzhou had experienced a "subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure". Officials expect additional American personnel from the American Consulate in Guangzhou to be evacuated.

The employee's physical symptoms and illness were strangely akin to those reported by 24 American and 10 Canadian diplomats in Cuba during 2016 and 2017.

A USA official, who was not authorized to discuss the situation publicly and requested anonymity, told the Associated Press that the evacuated Americans are being brought for testing to the University of Pennsylvania, where doctors have been treating and studying patients evacuated from the embassy in Havana. The people suffering from these symptoms have been treated by brain injury specialists at the University of Pennsylvania, who reported in the medical journal JAMA that they found cognitive, balance, and oculomotor abnormalities in most of the group from Cuba.

President Donald Trump has said he believed Cuba knew about the attacks and could have stopped them. In response, it downsized the USA diplomatic staff in Havana and prohibited families from joining the diplomats who stayed.

The China incidents affect one of the most important of the seven US diplomatic outposts in the country. Investigators still haven't determined the source.

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