United States employee in China reported unusual sounds, pressure

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gestures as he testifies at a hearing of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Was

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gestures as he testifies at a hearing of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Was

The US embassy in China issued a health alert Wednesday after a US government employee experienced an "abnormal" sound and suffered a mild brain injury - in an incident reminiscent of a mysterious illness that hit diplomats in Cuba.

"We can not at this time connect it with what happened in Havana but we are investigating all possibilities", a USA embassy official in Beijing told AFP on the condition of anonymity. At least two Canadians were also affected.

Responding to these claims, the Cuban Foreign Ministry denied any Cuban involvement in the alleged attacks.

"We do not now 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", the State Department warned in a health alert.

Emily Rauhala, the Washington Post's China correspondent reported that the State Department confirmed the embassy employee had been diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury, which USA officials in Cuba also experienced.

"The Chinese government has assured us they are also investigating and taking appropriate measures", she added.

"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", the alert advised.

The diplomats said when they left rooms in the embassy, the symptoms and sounds immediately stopped. The mployee was sent back to the United States for assessment.

U.S. officials in Cuba, and their families, started describing unexplained health problems between November 2016 to August 2017. During the investigation, the Cuban authorities did not find any "acoustic" or other weapons, which could be potentially damaging to the health of the USA diplomatic staff, even among those who resided very close to the building of the United States diplomatic mission.

The US State Department expelled 17 Cuban diplomats from its Washington embassy a year ago after the incidents came to light.

The alert immediately raised comparisons with a series of unexplained incidents in Cuba that led to the withdrawal of most USA personnel from the embassy in Havana.

Staff there reported symptoms including hearing loss, dizziness, fatigue and cognitive issues, though Cuban officials dismissed the idea of acoustic strikes as "science fiction" and accused Washington of slander. It ordered half its diplomats on the island to leave and warned Americans against traveling to the Caribbean nation.

The cause of those incidents remains unresolved.

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