Mys­te­ri­ous ail­ment hits diplo­matic staff in Cuba

Nelson Mail - - WORLD -

CANADA/CUBA: The Cana­dian foreign min­istry is or­der­ing the fam­i­lies of diplo­matic staff in Cuba to re­turn home, amid ques­tions about mys­te­ri­ous health symp­toms de­tected in 10 peo­ple who were sta­tioned on the is­land.

Cana­dian diplo­mats will no longer be ac­com­pa­nied by fam­ily mem­bers in Cuba be­cause of what the min­istry yes­ter­day called ‘‘on­go­ing un­cer­tainty’’ over the cause of the ail­ments. The spouses, chil­dren and par­ents of diplo­mats al­ready in Havana will be­gin leav­ing im­me­di­ately.

The move comes af­ter 10 Cana­di­ans con­tinue to show un­ex­plained brain symp­toms, and af­ter ‘‘med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion raised con­cerns for a new type of a pos­si­ble ac­quired brain in­jury’’, the min­istry said. The symp­toms have in­cluded dizzi­ness and headaches.

The United States State De­part­ment cut staff at its em­bassy in Oc­to­ber be­cause of sim­i­lar symp­toms af­fect­ing 24 Amer­i­can diplo­mats and de­pen­dents.

Former US sec­re­tary of state Rex Tiller­son said the symp­toms re­sulted from ‘‘tar­geted at­tacks’’ but it was not known who may have been be­hind them.

Cuba has re­peat­edly de­nied ei­ther in­volve­ment in or knowl­edge of any at­tacks, and has said its own in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the ill­nesses has turned up no ev­i­dence of de­lib­er­ate ac­tion.

The US has not ac­cused Cuba of such ac­tion but has said Havana holds re­spon­si­bil­ity nonethe­less, ar­gu­ing that such in­ci­dents could not have oc­curred on the small, com­mu­nist-run is­land with­out the knowl­edge of Cuban of­fi­cials.

The Cana­dian govern­ment said the re­sults of an en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment of diplo­matic staff quar­ters in Havana, in­clud­ing tests of air and wa­ter qual­ity, did not in­di­cate any­thing that could point to a cause. – AP

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