News that US President Donald Trump, world’s most powerful man was infected with the world’s most notorious is drawing instant reactions of shock, sympathy, undisguised glee and of course, the ever-present outrage and curiosity.
Trump announced on Friday, on Twitter, that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for the coronavirus.
The positive test reading adds more uncertainty to investors’ worries, especially about its effect on the Nov. 3 election between the Republican president and Democrat Joe Biden. US stock futures and most world markets fell on the news as did the price of oil.
World leaders were quick to offer official sympathy from the top, while something approaching schadenfreude bubbled up from elsewhere.
Trump joins a growing list of the powerful who have contracted the virus, including many who were skeptical of the disease.
“I’m sure that your inherent vitality, good spirits and optimism will help you cope with the dangerous virus,” Russian President Vladimir Putin wrote in a direct message to Trump released by the Kremlin.
World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted “My best wishes to President @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS for a full and speedy recovery.” The Trump administration in July formally notified the United Nations of its withdrawal from WHO, although the pullout won’t take effect until next year. Trump claims the U.N. health agency is in need of reform and is heavily influenced by China. The U.N. secretary-general also sent in best wishes.
Italian right-wing opposition leader Matteo Salvini tweeted: “In Italy and in the world, whoever celebrates the illness of a man or of a woman, and who comes to wish the death of a neighbor, confirms what he is: An idiot without soul. A hug to Melania and Donald.″
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was hospitalized for a week in April after he contracted COVID-19, wished Trump a “speedy recovery.”
Dr. Bharat Pankhania, who advises Johnson’s government on communicable disease control, said he hopes that Trump’s positive test sends a message to the president and other leaders.
“We need politicians, especially politicians like President Trump who has a lot of power and influence, to take this seriously and to support their scientists and clinicians in leading the outbreak management, rather than have political influence in trying to deny that this virus is in circulation and drag your feet around control measures because it suited your agenda.”
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, speaking at a weekly news conference, did not mention Trumps reluctance to wear masks when asked about his infection, but she said the news “reminded me of how widely masks are worn in Japan.”
Major media across the globe also played up the announcement, with bulletins crawling across TV screens in Seoul, Tokyo, Taipei, Dubai and Beijing.