Kamala Harris’s trip delayed by ‘anomalous health incident’ in Hanoi


US foreign policy updates

Kamala Harris’s departure from Singapore was delayed because of concerns about “an anomalous health incident” in Hanoi, where the US vice-president was scheduled to land, the state department said.

“Earlier this evening, the vice-president’s travelling delegation was delayed from departing Singapore because the vice-president’s office was made aware of a report of a recent possible anomalous health incident in Hanoi, Vietnam,” the US embassy in Hanoi said in a statement.

“After careful assessment, the decision was made to continue with the vice-president’s trip.”

The state department has often used the phrase “anomalous health incidents” to describe Havana syndrome, a mysterious illness of unknown origin from which several US diplomats have reported suffering symptoms that include nausea, severe headaches, ear pain and insomnia.

The syndrome is named after the capital of Cuba, where employees of the CIA and US state department first complained of unusual sound and pressure sensations in their heads in 2016 and 2017. The symptoms have since been observed among government workers in China, Russia and Austria.

Last week, two US officials in Germany complained of symptoms similar to those related to Havana syndrome, a person familiar with the matter told the Financial Times.

The US has not publicly identified who it believes is responsible for the incidents.

Harris is due to spend Wednesday and Thursday in Vietnam. She is the most senior member of President Joe Biden’s administration to have toured the region. US defence secretary Lloyd Austin was in Hanoi on a visit in July.

Harris met Singapore’s prime minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday and in a speech on Tuesday she described the Indo-Pacific region as “critically important to our nation, its security and prosperity”.

She also criticised China, saying that “Beijing continues to coerce, to intimidate, and to make claims to the vast majority of the South China Sea”.