Ms. Nauert told reporters that last fall some diplomats and staff members at the embassy in Havana began reporting “a variety of physical symptoms.” She did not elaborate, but said that the issues were not life-threatening and that the officials had since been screened and treated.
“We can’t blame any one individual or country at this point yet,” she said on Thursday.
American officials told The Associated Press that the symptoms were primarily severe hearing loss, possibly caused by a covert sonic device.
The Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday that it learned of the health issues on Feb. 17, and opened a “comprehensive, priority and urgent investigation” and formed a committee to investigate. The ministry also increased security around the American Embassy and diplomatic residences.
“Cuba is universally considered as a safe destination for both visitors and foreign diplomats, including Americans,” the ministry said in the statement.
Ms. Nauert said no cases involving private American citizens had been reported.
“The safety and security of American citizens at home and abroad is our top priority,” Ms. Nauert told reporters on Wednesday when the news broke. “We’re taking that situation seriously.”
On Thursday, a spokeswoman for Canada’s Foreign Ministry, Brianne Maxwell, confirmed that some Canadian officials in Cuba had also been affected.
“We are aware of unusual symptoms affecting Canadian and U.S. diplomatic personnel and their families in Havana,” Ms. Maxwell said in an email. “The government is actively working — including with U.S. and Cuban authorities — to ascertain the cause.”
She said officials did not believe there was any threat to Canadian tourists or other visitors to Cuba.