Dario Vivas, the governor of Venezuela’s Caracas capital district and strong ally of President Nicolas Maduro, died on Thursday of COVID-19 at 70 years old, officials said.
Vivas, a senior member of the ruling socialist party, had said on Twitter on July 19 that he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus and was going into self-isolation.
“He died in combat … taking care of his health and all of us in this difficult battle against the Covid-19 pandemic,” Vice President Delcy Rodriguez wrote on Twitter.
Vivas is the first top-level Venezuelan government official to die of the virus, though several have tested positive. Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami said on Wednesday he had recovered a month after being infected, while socialist party vice president Diosdado Cabello is in treatment.
Venezuela had reported 29,088 cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday, with 247 deaths. Those are both among the lowest figures in South America, but doctors and opposition politicians warn that the true caseload is likely far higher given testing delays, citing data from healthcare workers.
Vivas was also a member of the National Constituent Assembly, a pro-government legislative body created in 2017 after the opposition took control of congress the prior year, and the vice president for events and mobilizations for the socialist party.