US State Department Issues Expanded Health Alert for China Amid Mystery Illness
A mystery illness continues to strike US officials based in China. Now, the US State Department has expanded its health alert for US citizens in China to cover the entire country.
In May, one US official stationed in Guangzhou, a city in China’s southern region, reported “abnormal sensations of sound and pressure” that experts believed were symptoms of a mild brain injury from a sonic attack, similar to what US diplomats in Cuba experienced from 2016 and 2017.
That official was evacuated to the US for a medical evaluation, which showed the diplomat did have a mild brain injury. The employee had reported numerous “subtle and vague but abnormal” symptoms from late 2017 through April 2018.
On Wednesday, the US State Department evacuated at least two more American officials from China. They were also employees from the American Consulate in Guangzhou. It's unclear exactly how many US employees had fallen ill, but a State Department spokesperson told the New York Times that “a number of individuals” were evacuated to the US for medical evaluations.
The families of the US officials will also undergo the medical tests, the State Department said.
Amid the new evacuations in China, the State Department expanded a health alert already in place after the first diplomat fell ill. The alert urges US citizens traveling in China to seek medical attention as soon as possible for "any unusual, unexplained physical symptoms or events, auditory or sensory phenomena."
"Symptoms to be attentive for include dizziness, headaches, tinnitus, fatigue, cognitive issues, visual problems, ear complaints and hearing loss, and difficulty sleeping," the health alert says.
The new government alert also identifies the sonic incidents in China as "consistent with what other U.S. government personnel experienced in Havana, Cuba." In that case, officials stationed in the US Embassy in Havana experienced health problems with symptoms such as “sharp ear pain, headaches, ringing in one ear, vertigo, disorientation, attention issues and signs consistent with mild traumatic brain injury or concussion,” CNN reports.
Additionally, there were breaking reports Friday afternoon of new illnesses among US officials once again at the US Embassy in Cuba.