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How The World Reacted To Trump Testing Positive For The Coronavirus


President Trump's announcement that he and the first lady have tested positive for the coronavirus sent global markets downward and drew compassion from world leaders. But as NPR's Rob Schmitz reports, not everyone was sympathetic.

ROB SCHMITZ, BYLINE: Global markets closed somewhat lower as the news spread overnight U.S. time that the president of the world's biggest economy had tested positive for the virus. Japan's Nikkei index fell nearly seven-tenths of a percent, and Germany's DAX composite fell three-quarters of a percent on the news. At a summit in Brussels, EU leaders reacted swiftly to the news, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesperson wishing the Trumps a speedy recovery. And European Council President Charles Michel tweeting that COVID-19 is a battle we all wage every day, no matter where we live. In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 in March, wished the Trumps well.


PRIME MINISTER BORIS JOHNSON: Obviously, I think we all want to send our best wishes to the president and the first lady, and I've done that this morning, as you can imagine. And I'm sure that they'll both stage a very strong recovery.

SCHMITZ: But other European politicians critical of President Trump's lax approach to the virus in the U.S. weren't as generous with their comments.


GABRIEL ATTAL: (Speaking French).

SCHMITZ: French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said Trump's positive test is proof that the virus spares no one, including those who are the most skeptical about its reality and its gravity.

Other politicians went further, seizing the opportunity to criticize and even mock Trump. European Parliamentarian and former foreign minister of Poland, Radoslaw Sikorski, tweeted, Mr. President, I suggest you do not try to treat yourself with bleach - referring to Trump's query earlier in the year about injecting bleach to treat the virus. Global media was similarly critical.



SCHMITZ: Media outlets like Germany's ARD led their newscast with the news, with German newspaper Der Spiegel leading with the headline "The American Patient." In China, the editor of the Global Times, one of the country's largest tabloids, wrote that the president and first lady are paying the price for his gamble to downplay the pandemic, adding that this news shows how severe the pandemic really is in the U.S.

Back in Germany, one of the top trending terms on Twitter is schadenfreude, the German word for feeling pleasure from another's suffering. Germany and much of the EU is still reeling from billions of dollars' worth of tariffs President Trump has imposed on a range of European products. And there are still hard feelings over President Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord and from the World Health Organization, whose director, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, wished both President Trump and the first lady a full and swift recovery.

Rob Schmitz, NPR News, Berlin. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rob Schmitz is NPR's international correspondent based in Berlin, where he covers the human stories of a vast region reckoning with its past while it tries to guide the world toward a brighter future. From his base in the heart of Europe, Schmitz has covered Germany's levelheaded management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of right-wing nationalist politics in Poland and creeping Chinese government influence inside the Czech Republic.