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Leaders in Israel, around the world, wish Trump a speedy recovery

‘I would like to remind everyone that no one is immune from infection,’ Israeli health minister says after US president announces he and the first lady have COVID-19

US President Donald Trump speaks as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens during a bilateral meeting at the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, September 15, 2020. (Saul Loeb/AFP)
US President Donald Trump speaks as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens during a bilateral meeting at the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, September 15, 2020. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday wished Donald Trump a speedy recovery after the US president announced he and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for the coronavirus.

“Like millions of Israelis, Sara and I are thinking of President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump and wish our friends a full and speedy recovery,” Netanyahu wrote on Twitter.

President Reuven Rivlin issued a similar statement on his Twitter account.

“On behalf of the Israeli people, our thoughts and wishes are with President Trump and the First Lady for a refuah shlema, a swift and full recovery,” Rivlin wrote.

First Lady Melania Trump and President Reuven Rivlin (R) stand next to US President Donald Trump as he signs the guest book at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on May 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Thomas Coex)

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein also said he hoped the Trumps make a full recovery.

“At this opportunity I would like to remind everyone no one is immune from infection. Follow the guidelines, this is for our health,” Edelstein tweeted.

News of the infection of the most powerful man in the world with the most notorious disease in the world drew instant reactions of shock, sympathy, undisguised glee and, of course, the ever-present outrage and curiosity that follow much of what Trump does, even from 10,000 miles away.

Trump’s announcement, on Twitter, that he and Melania Trump tested positive for the coronavirus, and the deep uncertainty that accompanied it, permeated the global news cycle, upending countless plans and sparking comment everywhere from presidential offices to the thousands looking to weigh in on social media.

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump return to the White House in Washington, September 11, 2020. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP)

The positive test reading for the leader of the world’s largest economy adds more uncertainty to investors’ worries, including how the infection might affect the November 3 election between Trump and Democrat Joe Biden. US stock futures and Asian shares fell in the wake of the news. The future contracts for both the S&P 500 and the Dow industrials lost 1.9%. Oil prices also slipped. Stock prices in Japan and Australia tumbled.

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

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

“My best wishes to President Trump and the First Lady. Hope they both have a speedy recovery from coronavirus,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted.

Johnson had a brush with death after being infected with COVID-19 earlier this year.

“Wishing my friend @POTUS @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS a quick recovery and good health,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.

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

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) shakes hands with US President Donald Trump during ‘Namaste Trump’ rally at Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, on February 24, 2020. (Photo by Money SHARMA / AFP)

“Wishing @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS a speedy recovery. Covid-19 is a battle we all continue to fight. Everyday. No matter where we live,” EU chief Charles Michel said in a tweet.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization, wished the couple “a full and speedy recovery.” Trump is pulling the United States out of the WHO, accusing it of mishandling the coronavirus pandemic and being too close to China.

“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,” Australian Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, deputy leader of the conservative Nationals party, said on Australian Broadcasting Corp. TV. “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 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.”

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

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

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

President Donald Trump gestures while speaking during the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP/Julio Cortez)

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

The Chinese government has bristled at 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 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.”

Iranian state television announced Trump had the virus, an anchor breaking the news with an unflattering image of the US president surrounded by what appeared to be giant coronaviruses. US-Iran ties have suffered since Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers and reimposed crushing sanctions.

Social media platforms in Asia were ablaze with quick reaction.

Would Trump blame the Chinese? Would he thumb his nose at his critics and enemies by breezing through the quarantine without serious symptoms, tweeting away from the White House? Would he become gravely ill, or worse, and, if he did, what would that mean for the US election, one of the most contentious in recent history?

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 Trump floated earlier this year for treatment.

Keio University economics professor Masaru Kaneko tweeted that populist leaders, like British Prime Minister Boris 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?”

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