The US is still trying to ascertain who or what is to blame for mysterious illnesses that have afflicted its diplomats in missions worldwide, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday as suspected cases continue to mount.
“We are working overtime across the entire government to get to the bottom of what happened, who is responsible, and in the meantime to make sure that we’re caring for anyone who’s been affected and to protect all of our people to the best of our ability,” Blinken told US broadcaster MSNBC.
“We’ve got virtually the entire government working on this at the president’s instructions. We’re not there yet, but we will get there. We will figure this out,” he added.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier Thursday that cases of what is known colloquially as “Havana syndrome,” named after the Cuban capital where the first cases were documented, have been documented at US missions in Geneva and Paris.
Cases of neurological illnesses were documented within the State Department in the summer of 2021 but the report is the first time they have been made public. There are now as many as about 200 cases that have been documented since the first were documented in 2016.
There were three suspected cases documented in Geneva with at least one individual needing to be evacuated from Switzerland for medical treatment, the Journal reported. At least one suspected case was found in Paris.
Individuals affected by what the US government labels “anomalous health incidents” have reported suffering from a litany of ailments, including dizziness, headaches, tinnitus, vertigo and impaired vision and hearing. Some have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries.
Suspected cases have spanned the world from Europe to Latin America and China.
“I’ve met with employees of the department around the world who have said they’ve been affected. I’ve heard them. I’ve listened to them. You can’t help but be struck by how these incidents have disrupted their lives and their well-being. We’re doing everything we can to care for them,” said Blinken.
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