Canada confirms 14th case of diplomat falling mysteriously ill in Cuba

By Patrick Oppmann, CNN

(CNN) -- Canada has confirmed a 14th case of unusual health symptoms experienced by some Canadian diplomatic staff and their family members posted in Havana, Cuba, according to a government statement Wednesday.

The country has also decided to reduce by up to half the number of Canadian employees posted to Havana.

"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. All affected people will continue to receive medical attention, as required."

Cuba is investigating the cases and Cuban officials have said repeatedly they have not carried out or permitted any third countries to attack foreign diplomats on Cuban territory.

The Canadian government said Wednesday there is no evidence that Canadian travelers to Cuba are at risk. Canada had previously pulled out all family members and nonessential staff from Cuba.

The US Embassy has also cut staffing after its diplomats suffered mysterious illnesses that some US officials initially thought were the result of "sonic weapons" that emitted a powerful beam of energy causing neurological problems.

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 theorizing that the sound stemmed from noises made by the Indies short-tailed cricket. The research has not been peer-reviewed.

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