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Vice President Kamala Harris finally arrived in Vietnam after being delayed due to reports of the so-called “Havana Syndrome” in Hanoi.
What happened: Harris was in Singapore when her team received a report of two possible cases of Havana Syndrome in Vietnam, her next destination during her trip across Asia, according to The Guardian.
- Although her flight was delayed for several hours in order to investigate the matter, eventually they deemed it was safe for the vice president to travel to the Southeast Asian country.
- In a White House press briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki said officials should “take any reported incident of Havana syndrome seriously.” Psaki added nobody in the vice president’s entourage had been affected by the Havana Syndrome.
- “There was an assessment done of the safety of the vice-president, and there was a decision made that she could continue travel along with her staff,” Psaki added.
- The two cases were reported within the past week in Vietnam. Although officials did not disclose the people affected, they confirmed they are not working for the vice president or the White House.
What Havana Syndrome is: Havana Syndrome has symptoms similar to a concussion or a mild head injury, Medicine Net reported. Symptoms involve a loud piercing sound and pressure in the face, followed by pain, nausea and dizziness.
- First reported in Cuba in 2016, U.S. officials now say reports of Havana Syndrome have surfaced in other countries and continents, including Australia, Austria, Colombia, Russia and Uzbekistan, The Economist reported.
- Over 200 Americans have been affected by the “anomalous health incidents,” according to NBC News.
- Nearly half of the reported cases involved CIA officers or their relatives, while 60 cases were reported from Defense Department employees or relatives, and 50 reported cases were linked to the State Department.
- The FBI neither confirmed nor denied “the existence of specific investigations,” adding, “However, we will direct you to recent statements made by Director Wray in testimony before Congress where he underscored the protection, health and well-being of U.S. government personnel is the highest priority; we view all U.S. government personnel who have these symptoms as potential victims and will treat them as such; and we care deeply about our colleagues in the federal government.”
- Officials have yet to release any information regarding the cause or source of the Havana Syndrome. However, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine said in a report last year that the effects of these incidents were similar to that of directed microwave energy.
Why Harris is visiting Southeast Asia: The trip is an effort to broaden the cooperation between the U.S. and the two other nations, Singapore and Vietnam, as China continues to grow influence in Southeast Asia, the Associated Press reported.
- Harris slammed China in her speech in Singapore. In response, the Chinese state-run newspaper China Daily ran an editorial piece that reads, in part: “While pointing a finger at China and accusing it of ‘coercion’ and ‘intimidation,’ Harris willfully ignored her own hypocrisy in attempting to coerce and intimidate regional countries to join Washington in its scheme to contain China.”
Featured Image via ABC News (Australia)