‘Havana syndrome’s’ toll grows as Blinken says govt investigation afoot

As the “Havana syndrome’s” toll had grown following Monday security talks in Geneva and Paris with Russia over the country’s military buildup near Ukraine’s border, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told MSNBC on Thursday that the entire federal government was working to make sense of the elusive disease.

The official stressed that the US authorities were in the midst of getting to the bottom of the illness, which has afflicted about 200 US diplomats, officials and family members overseas.

“We are working overtime across the entire government to get to the bottom of what happened, who’s 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,” he said in a reassuring tonne.

Mr Blinken admitted in an interview for MSNBC that so far there was little known about the nature and source of the illness or who stood behind it.

“There is no doubt in my mind that people have been directly and powerfully affected,” he said.

The official said that despite the fact that the US had raised the illnesses with the Russians, no determination could be made about who was responsible.

As reported by Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on Thursday, at least one of the US diplomats was medevacked from Switzerland to the US for treatment.

According to WSJ, CIA director William Burns informed Moscow that it would suffer consequences should it turn out that it had been Russia’s doing.

The cases that surfaced following the talks in Geneva and Paris are by far not the first of the obscure condition whose symptoms include migraines, nausea, memory lapses and dizziness. Cases have also been recorded in China, Colombia, Germany, Austria and Serbia.

First reported among US officials in the Cuban capital in 2016, the malady appeared among the staff of the US Embassy in Hanoi in August and then struck five American families related to the US Embassy in Colombia’s capital Bogotá in October 2021. Moreover, German police reported carrying out an investigation into a number of the syndrome’s cases that hit the US Embassy in Berlin.