US expands China health alert amid illness reports

US State Department issued an expanded health alert for all of China. (Shutterstock)
Updated 08 June 2018
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US expands China health alert amid illness reports

  • US diplomats based in the country had experienced a mysterious malady that resembles a brain injury
  • The US government said that it had brought a group of people from that consulate back to the United States for further evaluation of their symptoms

BEIJING: The US State Department on Friday issued an expanded health alert for all of China amid reports some US diplomats based in the country had experienced a mysterious malady that resembles a brain injury and has already affected US personnel in Cuba.
A previous statement in May only mentioned the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou as the location for the health alert, though it was sent to US citizens throughout the country.
The State Department had confirmed earlier that one US employee assigned to the consulate in Guangzhou had “suffered a medical incident,” and that it had deployed a team to screen employees and family members there.
On Wednesday the US government said that it had brought a group of people from that consulate back to the United States for further evaluation of their symptoms, and reiterated that it was offering screening to anyone at the US embassy in Beijing or other consulates in China who requested it.
The United States also operates consulates in the mainland Chinese cities of Chengdu, Shanghai, Shenyang and Wuhan.
The updated statement, sent by email, changed the location of the health alert to “countrywide” from Guangzhou.
It warned of “unexplained physical symptoms or events, auditory or sensory phenomena,” and said symptoms of the ailment included dizziness, headaches, tinnitus, fatigue, cognitive issues, visual problems, ear complaints and hearing loss, as well as difficulty sleeping.
China has said that it thoroughly investigated the initial case reported by the United States and found no reasons or clues to explain it.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Thursday that as far as she was aware the Chinese government had not had any formal communication with US officials on any new cases.
China’s state-run Global Times tabloid called the situation at the consulate “very strange.”
“Practically all Chinese people do not believe that this country’s official organizations would carry out such sonic attacks against US diplomats. This does not fit with China’s basic concept and principles of diplomacy, and is inconceivable,” the Global Times said in an editorial.
It also said people found it hard to believe that another foreign country could carry out such an attack in China, escape China’s monitoring, and leave no trace.
Last year, 24 US government employees and family members in Cuba displayed the symptoms, which were similar to those related to concussion and mild traumatic brain injury, according to the State Department.
The illnesses among the American diplomats stationed in Havana heightened tension between the old Cold War foes.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement on Tuesday saying the department established a task force last month “to direct a multi-agency response to the unexplained health incidents.”


‘Don’t cry’: Celebration trumps pain at funeral for New Zealand terror attack victim

Updated 29 min 51 sec ago
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‘Don’t cry’: Celebration trumps pain at funeral for New Zealand terror attack victim

  • Nabi was the man who unknowingly opened the door to his killer at the city’s Al Noor mosque, reportedly welcoming him with the words “Hello Brother”
  • That was the memory those laying him to rest wanted to broadcast on Thursday

CHRISTCHURCH: Heads bowed, their hair covered by black headscarves, female family members of Mohemmed Daoud Nabi gently wept as they approached his body until a fellow mourner called out “Don’t cry.”
It was a refrain heard repeatedly throughout the short, emotional funeral for 71-year-old Nabi, one of 50 people slain by a white supremacist gunman in Christchurch last Friday during a live broadcast rampage that caused global revulsion.
Those bidding farewell to the septuagenarian were determined to send out a message. This was a day of celebration, not of loss.
Nabi was the man who unknowingly opened the door to his killer at the city’s Al Noor mosque, reportedly welcoming him with the words “Hello Brother.”
And that was the memory those laying him to rest wanted to broadcast on Thursday.
Huddled together under a marquee on a grey and blustery day, Nabi’s sons recited prayers in Dari and Arabic as the former head of their family lay in a wooden casket at their feet.
“Those who live abroad and die or killed there will go to paradise,” one of the sons said, a reference to Nabi’s journey two decades before from war-torn Afghanistan to his adopted homeland New Zealand.
“He was killed in a mosque in a house of God. He was a true servant. He was a pious person,” he added.
After prayers mourners carefully lifted the casket aloft and carried Nabi toward the newly dug grave at Memorial Park Cemetery, one of dozens for victims of the massacre.
Those gathered were a reflection of the breadth of the community affected by Friday’s massacre, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, bikers, refugees, young families — all touched by Nabi and the warmth he showed.
Some held placards advocating peace and tolerance. Some sported those now two ubiquitous words: “Hello Brother.”
As Nabi’s body, wrapped in white cloth, neared the grave, quietness descended over the crowd. Family and close friends then gathered to pour earth from plastic buckets into the open casket.
Stretching out across the cemetery were row upon row of empty graves still waiting to be filled in the coming days.
It was a stark reminder of the sheer scale of the killings, 50 dead among a small, tight-knit community in a town with a population of some 350,000 people.
Yet the mood in the compound remained joyous and steered away from despair.
Heavily tattooed biker gang members mingled with men wearing Afghan dress, non-Muslims and smartly dressed community leaders, embracing, sharing memories and stories.
A long line of mourners took turns to hug Nabi’s sons.
“I’m happy because he went straight to Jannah (paradise),” Omar Nabi said. “The gunman didn’t even know he opened the gates to heaven for my dad.
“He is laughing at him and smiling at us... Have you ever congratulated anybody for a death? This is the time and this is the place. Don’t cry. Don’t be sad. Congratulations. Your father made it to heaven.”