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Shock, sympathy and schadenfreude follows Trump’s Covid-19 bombshell

World leaders and media outlets have commented on Donald Trump’s positive test for coronavirus.

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Someone in a face mask walks past an image of Donald Trump on TV in Seoul, South Korea (AP)

Someone in a face mask walks past an image of Donald Trump on TV in Seoul, South Korea (AP)

Someone in a face mask walks past an image of Donald Trump on TV in Seoul, South Korea (AP)

News of the infection of the world’s most powerful man with the coronavirus drew instant reactions of shock, sympathy, undisguised glee and, of course, the ever-present outrage and curiosity that follows much of what Donald Trump does.

The US president’s announcement that he and US first lady Melania Trump tested positive for Covid-19 permeated the global news cycle, sparking comment everywhere from presidential offices to the thousands weighing in on social media.

Here is a flavour of some of the reaction:

Stock market

US stocks pulled lower on Friday as Wall Street’s first reaction was to retrench.

The S&P 500 was down 0.6% in morning trading, and a measure of fear among investors was on the rise, but the moves were not close to as chaotic as earlier this year when markets were first selling off on coronavirus fears.

Stocks were also paring their earlier losses, with the S&P 500 more than halving its 1.7% drop from shortly after trading began.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 116 points, or 0.4%, at 27,700, at 10.07am Eastern time, after earlier being down 433 points. The Nasdaq composite was 0.9% lower.

In Europe, stocks also trimmed their losses as the day progressed. Germany’s Dax lost 0.7%, and France’s Cac 40 fell 0.4%, while the FTSE 100 in London dropped 0.3%.

Trading in Asia was thin, with markets in Shanghai and Hong Kong closed. The Nikkei 225 index shed strong early gains to lose 0.7% after the Tokyo Stock Exchange resumed trading following an all-day outage due to a technical failure.

World leaders

World leaders and officials were quick to weigh in, and there was both sympathy and something approaching schadenfreude.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson wished Mr Trump a “speedy recovery”.

“Our best wishes go to the president and the first lady, but it demonstrates that no one is immune from Covid-19 and catching it. So it shows that no matter the precautions, we are all susceptible to this,” he said.

Vladimir Putin extended wishes of a speedy recovery to Mr Trump and his wife, expressing “sincere support in this difficult moment”, according to a statement released by the Kremlin.

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Vladimir Putin (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo/AP)

Vladimir Putin (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo/AP)

AP/PA Images

Vladimir Putin (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo/AP)

It said the Russian president sent Mr Trump a telegram saying: “I hope that your inherent vitality, good spirits and optimism will help you cope with the dangerous virus.”

World Health Organisation 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 UN of its withdrawal from the WHO next year. Mr Trump claims the UN health agency needs reform and is heavily influenced by China.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “Wishing my friend @POTUS @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS a quick recovery and good health.”

US-India ties have prospered under Mr Trump, and India is seen as a partner to balance China’s growing weight in Asia.

Mr Trump’s secretary of state Mike Pompeo said: “We are praying for the president and the first lady and we hope they have a speedy recovery.”

He said he and his wife tested negative after they were examined on their plane 20 minutes before landing in Dubrovnik, Croatia, on Friday. He said it was the fourth time in two weeks he has been tested, and he is reconsidering upcoming travel to Florida on Saturday and Asia starting Sunday as a precaution.

Meanwhile, Mr Biden tweeted his prayers to Mr and Mrs Trump, adding: “Jill and I send our thoughts to President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for a swift recovery.”

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.″

Australian agriculture minister David Littleproud, deputy leader of the conservative Nationals party, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp: “Our best wishes go to the president and the first lady, but it demonstrates that no-one is immune from Covid-19 and catching it. So it shows that no matter the precautions, we are all susceptible to this.

“A trying time, and it just goes to show that a global pandemic can in fact touch anybody, even the president of the United States.”

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

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A TV screen shows Mr Trump at Seoul Railway Station (AP)

A TV screen shows Mr Trump at Seoul Railway Station (AP)

AP/PA Images

A TV screen shows Mr Trump at Seoul Railway Station (AP)

Global media

Major media across the globe also played up the announcement, with bulletins appearing on TV screens in Seoul, Tokyo, Taipei and Beijing.

China’s official Xinhua News Agency and state broadcaster CCTV both announced the news, but there was no immediate comment from the government in Beijing on Friday, the second day of an eight-day national holiday.

The positive test result for Mr Trump and his wife was the most searched topic in China – after news about the holiday – on the popular social media app Weibo a few hours after the announcement, with most comments mocking or critical.

One user darkly joked that Mr Trump had finally tweeted something positive.

The Chinese government has bristled at Mr Trump’s attempts to blame China, where the disease emerged, for the pandemic, and called for global cooperation in fighting it, a message that has resonated with the public.

Hu Xijin, the 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”.

Iranian state television announced Mr Trump had the virus, with an anchor breaking the news alongside an unflattering image of the US president surrounded by what appeared to be giant coronaviruses.

US-Iranian ties have suffered since Mr Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers and reimposed crushing sanctions.

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A man and his sons wearing face masks ride past an advertisement using a portrait of US president Donald Trump in Indonesia (AP)

A man and his sons wearing face masks ride past an advertisement using a portrait of US president Donald Trump in Indonesia (AP)

AP/PA Images

A man and his sons wearing face masks ride past an advertisement using a portrait of US president Donald Trump in Indonesia (AP)

Social media

Social media platforms in Asia were ablaze with quick reaction.

While the uncertainty seemed palpable on a scroll through various nations’ social media, many of the comments seemed to revel in the announcement.

“Here comes a chance for him to actually try out his idea of injecting disinfectant into himself and fighting back (against allegations that) it was fake news!” tweeted Hiroyuki Nishimura, a Japanese internet entrepreneur, referring to an idea Mr Trump floated earlier this year for treatment.

Keio University economics professor Masaru Kaneko tweeted that populist leaders, like Mr Johnson and Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, “got infected because they tended not to take the coronavirus seriously. The two other leaders seriously tackled (the virus) after they get infected themselves. Will the United States follow their examples?”

PA