By Patrick Oppmann, CNN
(CNN) Canada has confirmed a 14th case of unusual health symptoms experienced by diplomatic staff in Havana, Cuba.
In a statement, the Canadian government acknowledged the case, and announced that diplomatic staff in Cuba would be halved. The number of diplomats at the Canadian embassy in Cuba will now be reduced from 16 to eight, according to a Canadian government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
“The health, safety and security of our diplomatic staff and their families remain our priority,” the statement said. “The Canadian government continues to investigate the potential causes of the unusual health symptoms experienced by some Canadian diplomatic staff and their family members posted in Havana, Cuba. To date, no cause has been identified.”
Cuban ambassador to Canada Josefina Vidal criticized the decision to cut staff as an “incomprehensible” move that “fuels speculation.” “This behavior favors those who in the United States use this issue to attack and denigrate Cuba,” she said. She emphasized Cuba’s cooperation in investigating the symptoms and affirmed the country’s commitment to good relations.
The Canadian statement said that after the last confirmed case of unusual health symptoms in November 2018, a number of Canadian diplomatic staff in Cuba underwent additional medical testing.
“These tests confirm that an additional employee has symptoms consistent with those of previously affected employees. This brings the total number of affected Canadian employees, spouses and dependents to 14.”
In April, Canada pulled all nonessential staff and diplomats’ family members, after testing concluded that their diplomats also suffered from mystery symptoms that included dizziness, ringing in the ears and memory loss.
The Canadian government said Wednesday there is no evidence that Canadian travelers to Cuba are at risk.
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