Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin admitted to critical care unit, transfers duties to deputy

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was admitted to a critical care ward with a bladder issue after he transferred his duties to his deputy Sunday, the Pentagon said, as he battles prostate cancer.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks "assumed the functions and duties" just before 5:00 pm (2200 GMT), Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said in a statement, adding that the White House and Congress had been informed.

Austin 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 later statement, citing his doctors.

The latest health scare came weeks after it emerged that Austin, 70, had kept previous hospital stays secret and had not immediately informed US President Joe Biden of his cancer diagnosis, sparking criticism as the United States faces crises in the Middle East and Ukraine.

Austin effectively vanished from the public eye for treatment for prostate cancer in December and again in January after suffering complications from the procedure.

This time, the public was alerted around two hours after he was sent to the hospital on Sunday afternoon.

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