US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has had to cancel a trip to Nato headquarters because he had to go to the hospital for the third time in three months.
Mr Austin, who is 70 years old, is in the intensive care unit at a hospital in the Washington DC area. The Pentagon said he has a serious problem with his bladder that needs urgent attention.
In a recent announcement, the Pentagon said they expect Mr Austin to be back at work by Tuesday.
His deputy is doing his job for now.
According to a statement from Walter Reed Military Medical Center officials, they don’t expect the person to stay in the hospital for a long time. This statement was released by the Pentagon on Monday. “We think the Secretary will be able to go back to his usual work tomorrow. ”
Mr Austin is in the hospital for a treatment that doesn’t involve surgery. He will be given medicine to make him unconscious while doctors work on his bladder problem. The Pentagon said he will be in the intensive care unit at Walter Reed for his whole stay but didn’t say how long that will be.
People are looking closely at Mr. Austin because his past trips to the hospital have been kept a secret.
He didn’t tell anyone in the US chain of command that he had prostate cancer in December or went back to the hospital in January.
Mr Austin’s bladder problem shouldn’t affect his recovery. He should still be able to fully recover as expected. Maj Gen Pat Ryder, the Pentagon spokesperson, said that the outlook for his cancer is still very good.
The defense secretary was supposed to lead a meeting about Ukraine’s defense in Brussels, Belgium, on Wednesday. It would have been his first trip to another country since he first went to the hospital.
He was supposed to go to a Nato meeting led by Nato’s leader Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday.
Mr Austin joined the latest UCDG meeting online from his house on 23 January.
His office told the media that Mr Austin plans to have these upcoming meetings online.
On Sunday afternoon, the Pentagon said that Mr Austin was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland for treatment. The White House and senior defense officials were also told about this.
Later in the afternoon, the Pentagon said that Mr. Austin gave his job to Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks.
On Sunday, the hospital said that the secretary had been moved to the critical care unit for extra support and careful watching.
Authorities have not said how long the first black US defense secretary will be in the hospital or when he might start working again.
Mr Austin’s doctors said that his bladder problem was not going to stop him from getting better from cancer.
Last year, Mr. Austin had an operation as part of his treatment for cancer.
He had to go back to the hospital on New Year’s Day because he had a lot of pain in his leg, hip, and stomach from complications after the procedure. The doctors found a bladder infection, and he stayed in the hospital for more than two weeks.
Top military leaders and the Biden administration were not aware of Mr. Austin’s serious illness until three days after he was readmitted to the hospital in January.
The defense secretary is the second in charge of the US military after the president, and is considered a very important member of the cabinet.
The situation made people worry about how open and safe things were, and caused three different investigations into how Mr. Austin dealt with his sickness and time in the hospital. Some important Republicans said he should be fired from his job.
At a meeting with reporters earlier this month, Mr. Austin said he was really sorry for not giving enough notice and that he had said sorry to President Joe Biden in person.
The defence secretary will speak at the end of the month about why he did not tell government leaders about something.