US defense secretary hospitalized again: Pentagon

Washington, Feb 11 (EFE).- United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was hospitalized on Sunday due to an “emergent bladder issue,” the Pentagon said, less than a month after his earlier hospitalization sparked a controversy.

“After a series of tests and evaluations, the Secretary was admitted into the critical care unit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for supportive care and close monitoring,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

It is unknown how long Austin would remain hospitalized, the Pentagon said, adding that the bladder issue did not change his anticipated recovery from prostate cancer.

Lloyd, 70, underwent a prostatectomy on Dec. 22 and was subsequently discharged.

On Jan. 1, he was re-admitted due to a urinary tract infection resulting from the operation.

However, according to the Pentagon statement, “his cancer prognosis remains excellent.”

Austin has transferred his functions and duties to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, the Pentagon said.

His earlier hospitalization sparked a huge controversy since neither Austin nor his team informed US President Joe Biden of his condition till Jan. 4, and the Pentagon did not issue a press statement until Jan. 5.

The controversy prompted a review of protocols within the Pentagon and the White House to clarify how members of the executive branch should inform the president when they are unable to perform their duties and how they should delegate their responsibilities.

The opposition has claimed that his hospitalization caused a power vacuum in the Pentagon at a critical moment, when the Gaza war was threatening to escalate into a regional conflict in the Middle East. EFE


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