U.S. screens more staff in China over mystery health issues

U.S. screens more staff in China over mystery health issues

U.S. screens more staff in China over mystery health issues

The United States has evacuated some Americans from its consulate in Guangzhou, China, after a U.S. employee was confirmed to be suffering symptoms consistent with the mysterious illness that led to the removal of more than half of the U.S. Embassy staff in Cuba, the State Department said Wednesday.

A previous statement in May only mentioned the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou as the location for the health alert, though it was sent to USA citizens throughout the country.

"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 United States".

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. She said they are being offered to "any personnel who have noted concerning symptoms or wanted baseline screening". In all, 24 of them were stricken with headaches, nausea, hearing loss, cognitive issues and other symptoms after saying they heard odd sounds.

Other veteran foreign policy experts have said Cuba is a playground for so many rogue actors from across the globe, including Russia, China, Iran, and Venezuela, that any one of those countries or agents working on their behalf could be responsible.

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

Symptoms, sounds and sensations reportedly varied dramatically from person to person.

So far this week, another employee, his wife and their two children were evacuated after the parents exhibited neurological symptoms. Following the incident, the US State Department issued a health alert.

On Wednesday, the State Department said it was evacuating several more Americans from Guangzhou for further health screenings.

The U.S. first pulled out all nonessential staff in Cuba in September, followed shortly after by the expulsion of 15 Cuban diplomats from their U.S. post.

Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Congress the case in Guangzhou was medically very similar to the ones seen in Cuba previous year, when a large part of the embassy staff was withdrawn after complaining of symptoms that included hearing loss, dizziness, tinnitus, visual difficulties, headaches and fatigue.

It serves four southern provinces with a combined population of more than 204 million and processes more than 1 million visa applications of all types annually.

It's also the only USA diplomatic installation in China authorized to process immigrant visas and handle adoptions.

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

Linda Chen, who runs a coffee shop in the area, said she was mystified as to why only certain people seemed to have been affected in an area known for its comfort and safety.

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