Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
Global | By Enrique Rogers

Probe on sound attacks on U.S. diplomats drew blank: China

Probe on sound attacks on U.S. diplomats drew blank: China

Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said U.S. government employees in China suffered brain injuries linked to "abnormal sounds" resembling still-unexplained injuries suffered by American and Canadian diplomats in Cuba past year.

It also advised any United States citizen, or their family members, who experience "any unusual, unexplained physical symptoms or events, auditory or sensory phenomena, or other health concerns" to contact their doctor.

USA investigators are looking into whether the first employee affected in China experienced a "sonic attack", which was one of the theories behind the still-unexplained illnesses suffered in Havana .

The unexplained sound ailing dozens of diplomats in Cuba may be getting worse in China - and the State Department has launched a task force to find out why.

In addition to concussions and hearing loss, other symptoms associated with the mysterious auditory sensations are dizziness, headaches, tinnitus, fatigue, cognitive issues, visual problems, ear complaints and difficulty sleeping.

Mark Lenzi, a security-engineering officer at the consulate, left the consulate Wednesday evening with his wife and two children after experiencing unusual sounds like marbles rolling around a metal funnel that he connected to neurological symptoms. 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.

A US medical team has been screening more personnel and their family members who work in Guangzhou this week in order to determine who may have been affected. That's where doctors have been treating and studying patients previously evacuated from the U.S. Embassy in Havana.

The US State Department said Wednesday a medical team had been sent to Guangzhou, in southern China, to conduct screenings of all US government employees and family members who asked for them.

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"If the U.S. makes formal contact with us, China will continue necessary investigations in an earnest and responsible manner and maintain close communication and cooperation with the U.S.", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Thursday at a regularly scheduled news conference.

The Embassy Beijing and five US consulates in China, she said, held "townhall meetings" on May 23 "to allow employees to ask questions and raise concerns directly with senior leadership".

The US State Department has brought a group of diplomats home from Guangzhou, China, over concern they were suffering from a mysterious malady that resembles a brain injury and has already affected US personnel in Cuba, a spokeswoman said.

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

Canada in April additionally ordered households of diplomatic employees in Cuba to return residence after mysterious well being signs had been detected in 10 Canadians stationed on the island. "China will ensure the safety of foreign diplomatic staff in China, including those from the USA", she said.

Earlier this week Secretary of State Mike Pompeo set up a health task force to develop a multi-agency response to the incidents in China and Cuba.

It serves 4 southern provinces with a mixed inhabitants of greater than 204 million and processes greater than 1 million visa functions of all kinds yearly. "However I do not really feel that there is one thing to be very afraid of as a result of it is most likely a really particular case", Chen mentioned.

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