Canada recalls diplomats' families from Cuba amid reports of mysterious illness


The families of Canadian diplomats serving in Cuba have been recalled as some Canadian diplomats and dependents are suffering unexplained brain symptoms, according to the Canada Press Monday.

About 27 people from 10 diplomatic families underwent testing when some complained of dizziness, headaches and difficulty in concentrating.

There have been no new cases of diplomats or their family members experiencing symptoms since last fall, but those already affected have reported the lingering symptoms can subside and later return.

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.

Questions emerged "more recently" with information from Canadian medical specialists involved in the evaluation of affected diplomats and dependents as well as from United States specialists that "raised concerns for a new type of a possible acquired brain injury", the ministry said.

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Air and water quality tests of staff quarters in Havana did not indicate a cause for the health problems, the official told reporters.

In a media release, Johnson Smith said: "With her experience, keen interest and understanding of global law, particularly laws relating to worldwide trade and organisations within the Caribbean region, I believe that Ms Phipps' appointment as ambassador-designate to Cuba aligns with the Administration's goal of wider trade linkages and stronger technical co-operation across the region".

With Castro's term as Cuban president now set to end Wednesday and a generational shift in power expected to take place, U.S. -Cuba relations in some ways seem to have returned to the deep freeze of the Cold War era.

Some 24 U.S. diplomats have also been affected, some as far back as late 2016, with the country deciding to cut its Havana staffing numbers by two thirds in October due to the uncertainty.

No tourists appear to have fallen ill and Canadian officials maintain Cuba is safe for holidaymakers.