Venezuela oil minister El Aissami tests positive for COVID-19

FILE PHOTO: Venezuelan vice president Tareck El Aissami attends a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia June 6, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan oil minister Tareck El Aissami has tested positive for COVID-19, he said on Twitter on Friday, a day after the leader of the socialist party, Diosdado Cabello, tested positive for the virus as well.

El Aissami, named to the position this year, has been indicted in the United States on drug trafficking allegations that he denies. He said he was beginning self-isolation.

“A new battle that I will take on, clinging to God and to life,” wrote El Aissami, who is also the country’s economic vice president.

Omar Prieto, governor of western Zulia state, has also tested positive for the virus. Venezuela has reported 8,010 cases of the novel coronavirus so far, far fewer than other Latin American neighbors like Brazil, but its cases have risen at a brisker pace in recent weeks.

Reporting by Luc Cohen; Editing by David Gregorio