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U.S. pulls 2 more from Cuba amid new potential health cases
June 21 2018, 12:29 | Irvin Gilbert
U.S. evacuates China staffers as illness mystery deepens
USA experts have yet to determine who or what was behind the mysterious illnesses that affected 24 people.
Doctors said in February that the symptoms among some 24 Havana embassy staffers were similar to those caused by concussions - headaches, balance problems, sleep disturbances and visual and hearing difficulties.
Twenty-one USA diplomats in Cuba were affected last August by sonic attacks with an acoustic device, according to the State Department.
More recently, USA diplomats in China also complained of symptoms similar to the ones suffered by colleagues in Cuba.
The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, which has partly rolled back a detente with Cuba, responded past year by sharply drawing down U.S. Embassy staff in Havana and in October expelled 15 Cuban diplomats.
The China incidents affect one of the most important of the seven US diplomatic outposts in the country.
Cuba said on Sunday it remained baffled by health issues affecting U.S. diplomats, after the U.S. State Department reported two Cuba-based functionaries had symptoms similar to previous cases that began in late 2016.
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The alert comes as a US medical team is screening more Americans who work at the Guangzhou consulate.
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 USA authorities. The U.S.is also examining new potential cases from a U.S. consulate in China.
Unlike the relatively small USA mission in Cuba, the US diplomatic presence in China is large with representatives from 33 different federal agencies employed at the embassy in Beijing and the five consulates on the mainland: Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenyang and Wuhan.
China has said it had looked into the Guangzhou case but came up with no clues about the cause of the symptoms.
In April, Canada, whose personnel were also stricken, said it would remove families of diplomats posted at its embassy in Cuba as information from medical specialists has raised concerns of a new type of brain injury. 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.