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Vice-President Kamala Harris’ much-awaited Vietnam tour faced a delay on Tuesday due to the Havana Syndrome. Read to know how dangerous this mysterious illness is.
What is Havana syndrome?
This mysterious disease first emerged in 2016, among US diplomats and government employees in Havana, the capital city of Cuba. People complained of hearing strange sounds. They also began experiencing odd sensations in their homes or hotel rooms. Additionally, they also suffered from dizziness, severe headaches, sleep issues, nausea, and were hard of hearing.
Since then, over 200 US officials have fallen ill with the mysterious disease. It is according to William Burns, the Director of the US’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). However, it is not just US citizens falling ill. Canadian citizens in Havana have reported similar symptoms. Chronic symptoms such as impaired concentration, depression, headaches, and imbalance can last for a couple of months. This has posed a significant obstacle to their usual way of life. However, Cuba has denied knowledge of this illness.
More on the delay in the VP’s Vietnam trip
The US government said that Vice-President Harris’ trip from Singapore to Vietnam faced a three-hour delay. It was due to a “recent possible anomalous health incident” a possible case of Havana syndrome. As per Jen Psaki, the White House Press secretary, the case was reported but not confirmed prior to departure. However, Haris resumed her journey after an additional health and safety assessment was conducted.
How is the US responding to this?
As of now, the US government believes that there is a major possibility that it was caused. intentionally. After all, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), US Military, CIA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and National Institutes of Health’s study on this has been inconclusive over the years. However, some researchers theorize this could be a psychological illness. Since the stress of working in foreign missions and environments is high.
However, a 2020 report by the National Academies of Science (NAS) found evidence. It states ‘directed energy beams’ as a plausible cause for this mysterious disease. It came up with possible explanations. The “directed pulsed radiofrequency (RF) energy appears to be the most plausible mechanism in explaining these cases among those that the committee considered” it read.
However, “the committee cannot rule out other possible mechanisms and considers it likely that a multiplicity of factors explains some cases and the differences between others,” it adds. The larger issue is preparedness for new and unknown threats. After all, they might compromise the health and safety of US diplomats serving abroad. The more dispersed in time and place, and even more difficult to recognize quickly,” adds the report.
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