Trump’s COVID-19 infection draws sympathy from Putin, Merkel


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Celebrities and world leaders have mixed reactions upon finding out President Trump and first lady Melania have tested positive for COVID-19.

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There was widespread international sympathy but also something that resembled schadenfreude after President Donald Trump announced Friday on Twitter that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for the new coronavirus. 

“Wishing my friend @POTUS @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS a quick recovery and good health,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose relationship with Trump has   grown close in recent years, tweeted.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was hospitalized for a week in April – some of it in intensive care – after he contracted COVID-19, wished Trump a “speedy recovery.”

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Israel’s leader Benjamin Netanyahu struck a similar tone and even used some of the same words: “Like millions of Israelis, Sara and I are thinking of President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump and wish our friend a full and speedy recovery,” he said.

The news that the 74-year-old American president caught a potentially lethal virus was carried in new bulletins and on TV screens across the globe from Dubai to Beijing.

Stocks markets in London, Tokyo and Australia fell sharply, and U.S. stock futures on Wall Street also declined as investors pondered what the announcement could mean for the Nov. 3 election between Trump, a Republican, and Democrat Joe Biden.

Government leaders around the world are weighing in on President Trump’s coronavirus infection. (Photo: Evan Vucci, AP)

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“To say this potentially could be a big deal is an understatement,” the Dutch financial services firm Rabobank said in a commentary. “Anyway, everything now takes a backseat to the latest incredible twist in this U.S. election campaign.”

But as the world expressed sympathy, some quarters appeared to take satisfaction in Trump’s infection. 

The news “reminded me of how widely masks are worn in Japan,” said Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, speaking at a weekly news conference. Koike did not mention Trump’s reluctance to wear masks when asked about his infection. 

‘May God’s healing powers touch them’:Twitter reacts to Trump’s COVID-19 infection

In China, where the government has bristled at Trump’s attempts to blame Beijing for the outbreak, there was no official reaction to the news beyond a brief announcement on CCTV, the country’s state broadcaster. But Hu Xijin, the outspoken editor of the state-owned Global Times newspaper, tweeted in English that “President Trump and the first lady have paid the price for his gamble to play down the COVID-19.”

The topic was the most-searched topic in China on the widely used social media app Weibo a few hours after the announcement, with most comments mocking or critical. 

In Iran, state TV announced the news of Trump’s infection with an unflattering image of him surrounded by what appeared to be giant graphical depictions of coronaviruses. 

The Qatari state-owned Al Jazeera news channel brought in commentators to discuss the “prevailing state of uncertainty” in the U.S., questioning whether Trump could effectively steer a reelection campaign and run the country from quarantine.

On social media, some users appeared to revel in the announcement and pointed to some of Trump’s misleading claims about the disease and how to treat it. 

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President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for COVID-19 and “will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately.”

USA TODAY

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“Here comes a chance for him to try his idea of injecting disinfectant and fighting back (against allegations that) it was fake news!” tweeted Hiroyuki Nishimura, a Japanese Internet entrepreneur, referring to an idea Trump suggested earlier this year for treating COVID-19. Trump has since claimed he was being sarcastic. 

Masaru Kaneko, an economics professor at Japan’s Keio University, tweeted that leaders like Britain’s Johnson and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro “got infected because they tended not to take the coronavirus seriously.” Since getting infected themselves, he said, Johnson and Bolsonaro started taking the virus more seriously. “Will the United States follow their examples?” Kaneko wondered. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with whom Trump has not always seen eye to eye on a range of issues from immigration to NATO spending, had a more forthright reaction.

“I send all my best wishes to Donald and Melania Trump. I hope that you will survive your #corona # Corona infection well and will soon be completely healthy again. @POTUS @FLOTUS,” Merkel tweeted via her official spokesman, Steffen Seibert. 

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin also weighed in. 

“I am certain that your inherent vitality, good spirits and optimism will help you cope with this dangerous virus,” Russia’s leader said in a telegram sent to Trump, according to Russia’s official Interfax news agency.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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