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Secretary of State Blinken renews efforts to 'get to the bottom' of Havana syndrome

Secretary of State Blinken renews efforts to 'get to the bottom' of Havana syndrome
United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he's committed to getting to the bottom of the so-called Havana syndrome attacks. File Photo by John Minchillo/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday announced new plans to investigate the so-called "Havana syndrome" affecting U.S. diplomats, their staff and families.

He said Ambassador Jonathan Moore will serve as the head of the department's Health Incident Response Task Force and Ambassador Margaret Uyehara will be senior care coordinator for people affected by the attacks.

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"All of us in the U.S. government, and especially with the State Department, are intently focused on getting to the bottom of what and who is causing these incidents, caring for those who have been affected and protecting our people," Blinken said during remarks at the State Department in Washington, D.C.

The mysterious attacks were first reported in August 2017 at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba. Officials have described them as sonic or acoustic in nature, with those affected reporting similar symptoms, including mild traumatic brain injury, permanent hearing loss, loss of balance, headaches and brain swelling.

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U.S. State Department officials said employees reported hearing high-pitched noises in their hotel rooms or homes. U.S. officials accused Cuban diplomats of using an ultrasound energy device to launch an "acoustic attack" on Americans.

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The symptoms have since been reported among diplomats in multiple countries, including in Vietnam, causing Vice President Kamala Harris to delay her planned trip there in August.

Military personnel working primarily overseas have also reported similar symptoms, prompting Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to warn employees to vacate the area if they start experiencing symptoms.

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The U.S. intelligence community is investigating the attacks but haven't been able to definitively determine the cause or who's behind them.

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President Joe Biden arrives to speak on the October jobs report in the State Dining of the White House on Friday. Photo by Al Drago/UPI | License Photo

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