US warns citizens in China after ‘abnormal’ sound injures consulate worker
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US warns citizens in China after ‘abnormal’ sound injures consulate worker

The US embassy, which issued a health alert to Americans living in China, said it could not link the case to health issues suffered by US government staff in Cuba dating back to late 2016.

world Updated: May 23, 2018 19:25 IST
Hindustan Times, Beijing
US citizens in China,US advisory,US government employee
US President Donald Trump welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago state in Palm Beach, Florida, April 6, 2017.(Reuters File)

The US embassy on Wednesday issued a health alert for its citizens in China after an official who experienced “abnormal” sounds and pressure for weeks was diagnosed with brain trauma.

The unnamed official posted at the US’s Guangzhou consulate in south China was diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) and sent to the US for evaluation.

The embassy alert said it could not link the case to similar ones suffered by US government officials in Cuba in 2016.

The Chinese didn’t respond to the case but told news agencies it was investigating.

“A US government employee in China recently reported subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure. The US government is taking these reports seriously and has informed its official staff in China of this event,” a statement published on the US embassy website said.

“We do not currently know what caused the reported symptoms and we are not aware of any similar situations in China, either inside or outside of the diplomatic community,” it added.

It said citizens who developed similar symptoms should visit a doctor.

“If you have concerns about any symptoms or medical problems that developed during or after a stay in China, consult a medical professional,” the statement said.

“While in China, if you experience any unusual acute auditory or sensory phenomena accompanied by unusual sounds or piercing noises, do not attempt to locate their source. Instead, move to a location where the sounds are not present,” the statement said.

“The unnamed American citizen assigned to the consulate in Guangzhou had reported a variety of ‘physical symptoms’ dating from late 2017 to April this year,” the US embassy in Beijing told Reuters news agency in an email

“We cannot at this time connect it with what happened in Havana, but we are investigating all possibilities,” a US embassy official told the news agency.

The US government had expelled 15 Cuban diplomats last October for what it said was Cuba’s failure to protect staff at the US embassy in Havana from mysterious health incidents at one point thought to possibly have been acoustic “attacks”.

US Staff there reported symptoms including hearing loss, dizziness, and fatigue though Cuba dismissed the idea of acoustic strikes as “science fiction” and accused the US of slander, the news agency reported.

First Published: May 23, 2018 19:22 IST