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US report claims 'directed' radio frequency is causing mystery illness among its diplomats in Cuba

US and Canadian officials began reporting the mystery illness in 2016.

The US Embassy in Havana (file photo)
The US Embassy in Havana (file photo)
Image: DPA/PA Images

A US GOVERNMENT report has claimed that a “directed” radio frequency is likely causing mysterious symptoms among diplomats in embassies in Havana and elsewhere.

Dozens of US and Canadian diplomats and their families in embassies in the Cuban capital first reported suffering from what became known as ‘Havana syndrome’ in 2016.

Their symptoms included dizziness, fatigue and headaches, as well as hearing and vision complications.

For some, symptoms began with the sudden onset of a loud noise accompanied by pain in one or both ears or across their head, and in some cases, a feeling of head pressure.

US and Canadian authorities have long suspected an attack using some sort of acoustic weapon, which led to heightened diplomatic tensions between Washington and Cuba.

Last year a Canadian study suggested the illnesses may have been caused by a neurotoxin in anti-mosquito spray.

Earlier this week, it emerged that Cuban scientists were helping investigate whether pesticides caused the mysterious health complaints.

The spate of illnesses dealt a blow to the historic agreement to improve relations between Washington and Havana forged by the Obama administration.

Though the results of the study between Cuba and Canada isn’t expected until next month, the US has offered an explanation for the first time about what might be causing the symptoms.

In a report, scientists at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine concluded that the symptoms experienced by diplomats are consistent with “the effects of directed, pulsed radio frequency energy”.

“The acute initial, sudden-onset, distinctive, and unusual symptoms and signs are difficult to ascribe to psychological and social factors,” the report reads.

“However, the significant variability and clinical heterogeneity of the illnesses… leave open the possibility of multiple casual factors including psychological and social factors.”

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The report also contained a number of recommendations, including for plans to carry out more comprehensive research into the phenomenon.

Canada has previously concluded that the use of an acoustic weapon is “unlikely”.

Researchers at the Brain Repair Centre in Halifax suggested “exposure to neurotoxins” was a more likely explanation.

Contains reporting from © AFP 2020.

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