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Havana Syndrome Cases Hit Ahead of Blinken's Visit

Ailments surface in Colombia
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 13, 2021 9:09 AM CUT

(Newser) – US officials are investigating suspected cases of Havana syndrome at the US embassy in Colombia, where Secretary of State Antony Blinken is to travel next week, days after similar reports surfaced at the US embassy in Germany. Emails from US Ambassador to Colombia Philip Goldberg describe a number of "unexplained health incidents" at the embassy in Bogota since mid-September, the Wall Street Journal reports, noting a minor is among those affected. More than a dozen embassy employees and their family members have reported symptoms—which can range from headache to brain injury—including some who had to be flown out of Colombia, CNN reports. A source tells the outlet that a few of those officials previously suffered symptoms while working in other countries.

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"Some of the families are living in hotels as the embassy runs tests on their apartments," per the Journal. Colombian President Iván Duque tells the New York Times that the country is investigating alongside the US. An investigation is also underway in Berlin, where reports of Havana syndrome cases surfaced Friday, per the BBC. President Biden vowed to find "the cause and who is responsible" hours after signing the HAVANA Act, which will provide financial compensation and other support for US victims around the world. More than 200 have been affected since the first known cases surfaced at the US embassy in Cuba in 2016. Biden said Friday that addressing the incidents is "a top priority for my administration," per CNN. The Times reports Blinken's trip will go ahead as planned. (Read more Havana syndrome stories.)

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