Denying rumors that President Hugo Chavez’ health was rapidly deteriorating from a respiratory infection after cancer surgery, the Venezuelan government said Monday that he was calm and stable and spent the day with his children.

Appealing to Chavez’s supporters to ignore the rumors, Jorge Arreza, the minister for science and technology and also a son-in-law of the president, tweeted: "Countrymen, don't believe the ill-willed rumors. President Chávez has spent the day calm and stable, accompanied by his children," the Wall Street Journal has reported.

Earlier, Vice President Nicolas Maduro, who visited Chavez, described the president’s health situation as "delicate."

Media reports Sunday stated that the 58-year-old leader had suffered a third set of complications after the Dec. 11 surgery, which was his fourth operation in 18 months.

The Venezuelan leader suffered unexpected bleeding owing to the complex operation in his pelvic region and doctors had to fight a respiratory infection that caused a setback Sunday, Reuters has reported.

Venezuelans gathered in churches and plazas to offer prayers to the president, the Associated Press has reported. About 300 people filled a Caracas church to pray for Chavez.

New Year's celebrations in Caracas were canceled while the information minister hosted a small gathering featuring musicians, speeches and prayers entitled, "Now More Than Ever With Chavez."

Chavez is due to be sworn in again Jan. 10 after he won re-election in October. But top officials from his ruling Socialist Party suggested that the ceremony might be pushed back if he were unable to return.

Latin American countries, including Cuba, Ecuador and Bolivia, that depend on the Venezuelan aid and subsidized fuel shipments are closely monitoring Chavez's health.

Any postponement of swearing-in is likely to be viewed by the opposition as a latest sign that Chavez is not healthy enough to govern and new elections should be held to choose his successor, Reuters has added.