It has been revealed that a mysterious condition called Havana syndrome has affected more than 130 US personnel as Joe Biden’s administration steps up its response to the unusual incidents, a report has said.
The New York Times reports that current and former officials say that more employees than previously thought have been affected by the condition.
While there were around 60 initial publicly confirmed cases, not including those of CIA officers whose total was undisclosed, the new total adds cases in Europe and elsewhere in Asia, The Times reports.
The newspaper details a previously unreported case from 2019 during which a military officer serving overseas was overcome with nausea and headaches while his two-year-old son began crying simultaneously after their car pulled into a specific intersection.
Once leaving the intersection, the officer’s pain reportedly ceased and the child also was said to have stopped crying. The Times cited interviews with 20 current and former officials across multiple government agencies in its article.
Speculation surrounding the incidents has provoked intrigue since 2016, when employees of the US embassy in Havana, Cuba, reported experiencing unusual and unexplained symptoms.
Now, the Biden administration has reportedly stepped up its investigation into the instances to determine what or who is responsible for the illness and whether they are in fact direct attacks.
“As of now, we have no definitive information about the cause of these incidents, and it is premature and irresponsible to speculate,” Amanda J Schoch, a spokesperson for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence told The Times.
The frequency of the occurrences in covert areas of government including the CIA, the State Department, and the Defense Department has reportedly caused concern in the administration, the newspaper reported.
In December last year, a report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine said the most likely source of the illness was “directed, pulsed radiofrequency energy”.
While reports have previously acknowledged that those affected suffered symptoms such as headaches, ringing ears, hearing, and affected memory, the newspaper has now said some victims have even suffered long-term brain injuries.
The outlet says the severity of the injuries has varied but that some people have endured chronic, potentially irreversible symptoms that may be permanent.
CNN reported in April that federal agencies were investigating at least two incidents on US soil, one of which reportedly took place on the south side of the White House lawn in November.
The Pentagon recently briefed top lawmakers on such incidents and said that defence officials said it was possible Russia was behind the episodes, Politico previously reported. Russia has denied any responsibility.
“We are bringing the US government’s resources to bear to get to the bottom of this,” Emily J Horne, a spokesperson for The National Security Council, who have begun an intelligence review of the incidents, told The Times.