U.S. pulls 2 more workers from Cuba amid health issues
Washington – The United States has pulled out two more of its workers from its embassy in Cuba and is testing them for possible brain injury, three U.S. officials told The Associated Press on Friday, amid concerns they may have been affected by mysterious health incidents harming U.S. diplomats in Cuba and China.
The two individuals are considered “potentially new cases” but have not yet been “medically confirmed,” a State Department official said. Two other officials said the individuals have been brought for testing to the University of Pennsylvania, where doctors have been evaluating, treating and studying Americans affected in Cuba last year as well as almost 10 new possible cases from a U.S. consulate in China.
The officials weren’t authorized to comment publicly.
If confirmed by doctors to have the same condition, the two individuals would mark the 25th and 26th confirmed patients from the bizarre incidents in Cuba that were first disclosed last year and have been deemed “specific attacks” by the U.S. government. The United States has said it doesn’t know who is behind it, but has argued Cuba is responsible for protecting all diplomats on its soil. Cuba has denied any involvement in or knowledge of what may have caused the injuries.
Until Friday, the most recent suspicious incidents disclosed by the U.S. in Cuba had been in August 2017, leading many to suspect that the incidents had stopped.
The two new individuals removed from Cuba were medically evaluated in just the past few weeks, two officials said.
The confirmed Cuba patients have been found to have a range of symptoms and diagnoses including mild traumatic brain injury, also known as concussions. Unexplained sounds and vibrations that accompanied the symptoms initially led investigators to suspect a sonic weapon, although an interim FBI report in January said no evidence had been uncovered that sound waves could have damaged the Americans’ health.
The potential new cases come as the U.S. has being issuing health alerts to Americans in China after a worker at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou reported symptoms and strange sounds and was flown to the U.S. That worker was then medically confirmed to have “suffered a medical incident consistent with what other U.S. government personnel experienced in Havana, Cuba,” the State Department has said.
The U.S. Embassy in Beijing on Friday sent an alert to Americans living or traveling in China, and urged them to seek medical help in the event they suffered any “unusual, unexplained physical symptoms or events, auditory or sensory phenomena, or other health concerns.”
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