Published: Mon, June 11, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

U.S. Expands China Health Alert Amid Mysterious Illness Reports

U.S. Expands China Health Alert Amid Mysterious Illness Reports

Cuba's foreign ministry said Sunday that it has not uncovered the cause of mysterious health symptoms that affected an official of the USA embassy in Havana last month and characterized the United States' decision to withdraw personnel posted there as "politically motivated".

At least one employee has suffered a mild brain injury, and several others have returned to the U.S.to undergo medical evaluations.

In an emailed statement to CTV News, Global Affairs Canada Spokesperson John Babcock said they're aware of the alert issued by the U.S. State Department and that they're working to determine if any Canadian diplomats have also been affected by the reported ailments.

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 US citizens throughout the country.

The Penn team, which published its Cuba findings February in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was not able to prove what caused the symptoms in those patients.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, which has partly rolled back a detente with Cuba, responded a year ago by sharply drawing down U.S. Embassy staff in Havana and in October expelled 15 Cuban diplomats.

A USA 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.

Hua Chunying, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Relations, recalled that from the first report on the mysterious sonic affection, studies were carried on and conclusions were presented to US authorities.

The U.S. government has deemed the Cuba incidents "specific attacks" on American workers but hasn't publicly identified a cause or culprit.

The development comes as the USA issues travel warnings to Americans in China after unexplained health issues there raised fears that problems detected in Cuba in 2016 have spread.

The US State Department issued a health alert Friday for travel in China, following fears of another sonic attack, this time carried out at the US consulate in Guangzhou.

A security person walks outside the US consulate building in Guangzhou in south China's Guangdong province, Thursday, June 7.

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