Canada recalls families of diplomatic staff from Cuba

BBC: Canada sends home families of diplomats posted in Cuba

Canada pulls diplomat families out of Cuba

Ottawa will remove families of diplomats posted at its embassy in Cuba as the cause of unusual health symptoms is still unknown, though information from medical specialists has raised concerns of a new type of brain injury, Canada said on Monday.

Twenty-seven had been tested.

Canadian diplomats will no longer be accompanied by family members in Cuba because of what it called "ongoing uncertainty" over the cause of the ailments, the ministry said in a statement.

The symptoms appear to have affected only Canadian and American personnel, and there have been no signs travelers could be at risk, the official said. But those are "now considered unlikely", the senior official said.

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In a statement, Global Affairs Canada, which oversees the country's worldwide presence, said medical specialists who examined the sufferers had "raised concerns for a new type of a possible acquired brain injury".

The symptoms included dizziness, headaches and a lack of ability to concentrate. In some cases, the symptoms have lessened in intensity before returning, the official said.

Those who were afflicted included global affairs, immigration and national defence staff at the embassy as well as their spouses and children.

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The working theory is that whatever the cause, it happened in the housing, not the embassy, itself, because none of the Cuban staff who worked alongside Canadians suffered health problems. One Canadian described hearing a high pitched noise like a sheet of metal being flexed, but they did not suffer any sickness.

More recent U.S. media reports suggest that Federal Bureau of Investigation agents dispatched to Havana have not been able to find any evidence to support the acoustic or sonic weapon theory, either.

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Global Affairs also emphasized that it had a "positive and constructive relationship with Cuba and has received close cooperation from the Cuban authorities since health concerns of Canadians serving in Cuba first surfaced in the spring of 2017".

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