Canada pulls diplomat families out of Cuba

Raul Castro will retire on Thursday

Raul Castro will retire on Thursday

Canadian diplomats will no longer be accompanied by family members in Cuba because of what it called "ongoing uncertainty" over the cause of the ailments, the ministry said in a statement.

The action was taken after a new medical report suggested that the mysterious illnesses that affected 10 Canadians - unexplained headaches, nausea, short-term memory loss and dizziness - could be the result of a "new type of possible acquired brain injury".

Canada's foreign ministry said Monday that it is ordering families of diplomatic staff in Cuba to return home amid questions about mysterious health symptoms detected in 10 people who were stationed on the island.

Canada has also received information from Canadian and American medical specialists that raised concerns of a possible type of acquired brain injury, the official said, while initial theories of a sonic attack first raised by United States officials previous year or mass psychosomatic causes are now considered to be improbable.

The families will return to Canada over the next few weeks.

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Staff at the USA embassy in Havana were similarly affected when the injuries surfaced last year.Washington pulled out its diplomatic staff in Havana in September and warned U.S. citizens not to visit Cuba.

The US State Department said last August that Americans linked to its embassy in Cuba had experienced physical symptoms caused by unspecified "incidents" starting as far back as late 2016.

There are now 15 staff in Havana, and Canada will review whether all the positions are needed, the official said.

Canada and Cuba continue to have a positive relationship and have been cooperating to find a cause of the problem, the statement said.

The illnesses affected both Canadian and American diplomats and their families.

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