The United States says another diplomat in Cuba has fallen ill with symptoms of a mysterious sickness which intelligence officials in Washington say is caused by a sonic attack.
US Department of State spokesperson Heather Nauert was quoted as telling reporters in Washington that the attack had been confirmed on the diplomat after a medical assessment.
Nauert added that a total of 25 American diplomats had so far been targetted in similar attacks in Havana.
“This is the first medically confirmed case in Havana since August 2017. The number of Americans now affected is now 25,” she said at a State Department briefing on Thursday as quoted by AFP.
The case was the first confirmed in Cuba since August and could suggest that whatever caused the illnesses in late 2016 and the first part of 2017 had started again or was continuing, wrote the New York Times in a report on the development.
Elsewhere in her remarks, Nauert added that the diplomat whom she did not identify had been evacuated to the US, and that one more employee is still being evaluated.
She further asserted that Washington had informed Cuban officials of the latest case on May 29, before the illness was formally confirmed by medical authorities.
The US has accused Cuba of either carrying out the purported attacks or failing to protect American diplomats. It has accordingly recalled more than half of its staff and expelled 15 Cuban diplomats from Washington.
Havana, however, has strongly denied any role in or knowledge of the mysterious incidents.
“We can confirm that we have no credible hypothesis or scientific explanation that justifies the retaliatory US measures,” the Cuban Foreign Ministry has been quoted as saying in an earlier statement.
The alleged victims of the mystery ailment have reportedly suffered symptoms consistent with mild brain trauma – including, in some cases, disorientation and hearing loss, according to media reports.
The case has also reportedly had a victim in China. Targetted diplomats in both Havana and Beijing are reported to have acknowledged that they have heard an unidentified noise before falling ill.
US officials have been quoted by media reports that the diplomats may have been targeted by a secret sonic weapon, without elaborating.
US intelligence and medical experts have been probing the mystery ailment for more than a year and appear to be no closer to identifying the cause.
Other reports earlier quoted US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as announcing that the State Department had established a task force to respond to the mysterious acoustic incidents overseas.