Mysterious ailment hits diplomatic staff in Cuba
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