TELESUR (Venezuela), CNN (USA), BBC NEWS (UK)
HAVANA - According to a top official, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez is battling a "severe" lung infection that has caused respiratory failure, reports state-funded media TeleSur.
Fifty-eight-year Chavez underwent cancer surgery for the fourth time in Cuba on Dec. 11 and then developed a respiratory infection, according to BBC News.
He is following a strict treatment regimen for "respiratory insufficiency" caused by an infection, Venezuelan Information Minister Ernesto Villegas told TeleSur Thursday night.
The information minister did not provide details about the treatment or prognosis, adds CNN.
The president has not been seen in public since having cancer surgery in Havana three weeks ago. This has sparked rumors that his health was quickly deteriorating.
The Venezuelan authorities have urged people not to believe "the lies" being told about Chavez's health.
Mr Villegas warned the people of Venezuela not to get caught into a "psychological war" being fought in the media which had the "ultimate aim of destabilising the Bolivarian republic", reports TeleSur.
Hugo Chavez came into power in 1999 and was elected for a fourth term in office in October 2012.
It is not known whether Chavez will be able to be inaugurated for another term as planned on Jan. 10.