Canada reduces presence in Cuba after another diplomat falls mysteriously ill

Canada reduces presence in Cuba after another diplomat falls mysteriously ill

Canada's foreign office said the number of staff will now be cut by up to half as a result.

"In addition to revised security measures already initiated by the Canadian government, we have made a decision to reduce by up to half the number of Canadian staff posted to Havana" read the release.

Staff numbers will now drop from about 16 to up to eight.

Canadian officials have stated that Cuba is cooperating with their ongoing investigation.

Ottawa is cutting the number of Canadian diplomats posted to the Canadian embassy in Havana, where Canadian diplomats and their families have experienced odd ailments since early 2017.

Last April, Canada pulled all non-essential staff and diplomats' family members following tests which concluded that their diplomats also suffered from mystery symptoms that included dizziness, ringing in the ears and memory loss.

Josefina Vidal, Cuba's ambassador in Canada, issued a statement saying her Government considered the move "incomprehensible", but "Cuba remains committed to keeping the good state of bilateral relations". Twenty-six workers at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba have also been affected, suffering a range of symptoms and diagnoses including mild traumatic brain injury, also known as concussion. A senior Canadian government official said in a briefing for journalists that the latest case involves a diplomat who arrived in the summer and reported symptoms on December 29.

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Until the case in November, there had not been a reported case since October 2017, "quite a considerable period of time", the official said. The reduction will not affect the canadian Ambassador in Havana and will not affect consular assistance to Canadians on the island.

Dr. Michael Hoffer and other doctors from the University of Miami who first treated the USA diplomats - as well as specialists from the University of Pennsylvania who continued their treatment - said they have seen physical evidence of the injuries and reject the theory that this might be a case of mass hysteria.

Ms Vidal said reducing the embassy staff would "not help find answers to the health symptoms reported by Canadian diplomats". Canadian travellers should continue to consult the Government of Canada's Travel Advice and Advisories for the latest updates.

The United States reduced embassy staffing in Cuba to a maximum of 18 from more than 50 after more than two dozen personnel developed unusual illnesses.

"This behavior favors those who in the United States use this issue to attack and denigrate Cuba", Vidal said. One official said Canadian relations with Cuba are very strong.

A Canadian official said government officials are working closely with USA officials.

Global Affairs said in a statement on Wednesday that a 14th person has exhibited symptoms consistent with the others who have fallen ill.

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