Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

U.S. President Donald Trump throws hats to supporters after speaking at a campaign rally at Duluth International Airport, in Duluth, Minn. on Sept. 30, 2020.

Alex Brandon/The Associated Press

News that the world’s most powerful man was infected with the world’s most notorious disease dominated screens large and small, drawing shock, sympathy and some barbs for President Donald Trump.

The outpouring from world leaders and flagging markets Friday left little doubt that Trump’s illness will have global implications – even if they’re still unknown. Trump’s announcement on Twitter that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for the coronavirus prompted a multitude of responses on the same platform, as well as others.

The positive test reading adds to investors' worries, especially about its effect on the Nov. 3 election between the Republican president and Democrat Joe Biden. U.S. stock futures and most world markets fell on the news as did the price of oil.

Story continues below advertisement

From India to Qatar to Mexico, world leaders were quick to offer official sympathy from the top, many in the form of tweets directly to Trump, while something approaching schadenfreude bubbled up from elsewhere. Trump is the most prominent on a growing list of powerful people who have contracted the virus, including many who were skeptical of the disease. Among his well-wishers were at least two who have recovered from the illness.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire on Friday wished Trump and his wife a full recovery.

“Sophie and I are sending our best wishes to @POTUS (President) Trump and @FLOTUS (Melania Trump). We hope you both get well soon and have a full recovery from this virus,” Trudeau said on Twitter.

“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 UN health agency is in need of reform and is heavily influenced by China. The UN 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 neighbour, 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.”

Story continues below advertisement

Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, who also recently recovered from a serious bout with coronavirus, has sent a message to Trump and the first lady extending his best wishes for a speedy recovery.

“I know this illness from direct experience, that can manifest itself also in an insidious way, but which can be overcome with correct and courageous behaviour,” Berlusconi said in a message.

Dr. Bharat Pankhania, who advises Johnson’s government on communicable disease control, said he hopes that Trump’s positive test sends a message.

“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 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 played up the announcement, with bulletins crawling across TV screens in Paris and Rome, Seoul and Beijing.

Story continues below advertisement

“To say this potentially could be a big deal is an understatement,” Rabobank said in a commentary. “Everything now takes a back seat to the latest incredible twist in this U.S. election campaign.”

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

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 co-operation in fighting it. It’s 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.”

Story continues below advertisement

Multiple Arab news media outlets continuously broadcast footage of Trump and his wife after the virus announcement.

Al-Arabiya, a Saudi-owned satellite channel based in Dubai, cut to a long live shot of the White House. Qatari state-owned Al Jazeera channel brought in four commentators to discuss the “prevailing state of uncertainty” in the United States, questioning whether Trump could effectively steer a re-election campaign and run the country from quarantine.

Iranian state television announced Trump had the virus, an anchor breaking the news with an unflattering image of the U.S. president surrounded by what appeared to be giant coronaviruses. U.S.-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 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 U.S. election, one of the most contentious in recent history? What would it mean for U.S. leadership during tumultuous times?

While the uncertainty seemed palpable on a scroll through various social media in an array of languages, many seemed to revel in the announcement.

Story continues below advertisement

And the satirical Australian news site, the Betoota Advocate, posted a story with this headline: “Trump Family Records More Cases Of Community Transmission Than Entire State Of Queensland.”

With files from Reuters

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you manage your health, your finances and your family life as Canada reopens.
Visit the hub
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies