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Canada to reassess Cuba presence over diplomat brain injuries

OTTAWA, Canada (AFP) — Canada said Saturday it will send a delegation to Cuba next week to re-evaluate its presence there after another diplomat was diagnosed with a mysterious brain injury that has affected several dozen North American envoys to the island.

Since 2016, 13 Canadians and 25 Americans have all reported similar unexplained symptoms, including dizziness, fatigue, headaches, hearing and vision complications, a loss of balance, nausea and an inability to concentrate.

“A delegation of senior officials will return to Cuba next week to review Canada’s current operations and determine how we can further reduce the risks to our diplomatic staff,” foreign ministry spokesman Richard Walker told AFP.

He said Canada was considering all options, without offering details.

The Canadian Government said Thursday it had allowed employees currently in Cuba to return home, if they wanted to.

Canadian and US authorities initially suspected an attack using some sort of acoustic weapon, which led to heightened diplomatic tensions between Washington and the Caribbean island nation. But Ottawa later concluded that to be “unlikely.”

American doctors and officials have pointed to “a new type of a possible acquired brain injury” outlined in a February issue of Journal of the American Medical Association by health experts at the University of Pennsylvania, who treated 21 US diplomats.