World

14th Canadian envoy falls ill in Cuba

Punjab Tribune Bureau | January 31, 2019 12:03 PM

OTTAWA: The Canadian government has confirmed the 14th case of unusual health symptoms experienced by diplomatic staff in Havana, Cuba.

In a statement on Wednesday, the government acknowledged the case and announced that diplomats at the country's embassy in Havana will now be reduced from 16 to eight, CNN reported.

"The health, safety and security of our diplomatic staff and their families remain our priority," the statement said.

"The Canadian government continues to investigate the potential causes of the unusual health symptoms experienced by some Canadian diplomatic staff and their family members posted in Havana, Cuba. To date, no cause has been identified."

The statement said that after the last confirmed case of unusual health symptoms in November 2018, a number of Canadian diplomatic staff in Cuba underwent additional medical testing.

"These tests confirm that an additional employee has symptoms consistent with those of previously affected employees. This brings the total number of affected Canadian employees, spouses and dependents to 14," it added.

Last April, Canada pulled all non-essential staff and diplomats' family members following tests which concluded that their diplomats also suffered from mystery symptoms that included dizziness, ringing in the ears and memory loss.

The US embassy in Cuba had previously cut staffing after its own diplomats suffered mysterious illnesses, which some US officials initially thought were the result of "sonic weapons" that emitted a powerful beam of energy causing neurological problems, reports CNN.

The US said that 26 American diplomats and family members were affected.

According to a study published in the medical journal JAMA in March 2018, a majority of 21 affected patients reported problems with memory, concentration, balance, eyesight, hearing, sleeping or headaches that lasted more than three months.

Three people eventually needed hearing aids for moderate to severe hearing loss, and others had ringing or pressure in their ears.

In early January, a British and an American scientist released research theorising that the sound stemmed from noises made by the Indies short-tailed cricket.

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