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US fails to fix 'Havana syndrome': Concern among diplomatic staff grows
Russian military intelligence is suspected to be behind the Havana syndrome debilitating US diplomatic and intelligence staff worldwide. Havana syndrome was first detected among US and Canadian diplomatic staff in Havana, Cuba, in 2016, and the last incident from Vienna last month. US staff in China, Uzbekistan, Russia and Austria were affected. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has acknowledged there is "growing concern" about the "unexplained health incidents." What is 'Havana syndrome'?

WASHINGTON, Aug 8: Despite deploying all the resources and after several years of investigations, the US has been unable to find the source and nature of the Havana syndrome that has affected the health of US diplomatic and Intelligence staff in many countries. The latest unexplained health incidents were reported from Vienna last month.

It has been an issue causing serious concern to the US that the complaints of ailments due to the mysterious syndrome among diplomatic and CIA staff placed in foreign countries and their families have been escalating.

This illness was first detected among US and Canadian diplomatic staff in Havana, Cuba, in 2016, and later experienced by US Intelligence staff elsewhere also. US staff in China, Uzbekistan, Russia and Austria were affected. There were cases within the US too.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday acknowledged there is "growing concern" about the "unexplained health incidents" that have affected US personnel around the globe. Blinken plans to meet "soon" with staff and families affected by the 'syndrome.' The department has 70,000 employees.

"Those of you who've been directly affected are urgently seeking clarity. Employees going abroad are anxious about whether they or their families are at risk. That's completely understandable, and I wish we had more answers for you," Blinken wrote in a message to the staff.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden's National Security Council is conducting an investigation into what is causing the incidents and who may be behind them. But so far, US officials have no answers, nearly five years after the Havana incident.

About 100 CIA officers and their family members have been afflicted by the Havana Syndrome, according to the CIA. They are among some 200 US officials and kin sickened by the unknown syndrome, CIA Director William Burns said.

"I'm certainly persuaded that what our officers and some family members, as well as other US Government employees, have experienced is real, and it's serious," he said.

What is Havana syndrome: It constitutes a set of debilitating symptoms like hearing strange noises that don't exist, headache, hearing loss, memory loss, nausea caused by intense microwaves.

Scientific studies as reported in JAMA found that the embassy staff suffered from some sort of brain injury. Microwave energy "weapon" was thought to be the causative factor. Russian military intelligence is considered the perpetrators of the medical condition. The US gradually started reducing its staff in the Cuban embassy in 2017. Canada also withdrew staff from Cuba.

Last year, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine reported that "directed, pulsed radio frequency energy" appears to be causing the syndrome.

Besides, the CIA, State Department and Pentagon are also investigating, but so far to no avail.

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