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World reacts with sympathy, criticism after President Donald Trump, Melania Trump test positive for COVID-19

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Oct. 2 (UPI) — World leaders, citizens and other figures have reacted with a mixture of sympathy and criticism to President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump testing positive for COVID-19.

Trump announced early Friday that he and the first lady had received the diagnosis. They were tested shortly after it became known that former press officer Hope Hicks had tested positive for the virus.

“The president and first lady are both doing well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence,” White House physician Sean Conley said in a memo early Friday.

“The White House medical team and I will maintain a vigilant watch, and I appreciate the support provided by some of our country’s greatest medical professionals and institutions. Rest assured I expect the president to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering, and I will keep you updated on any future developments.”

Both the president and first lady said they would enter quarantine Friday.

“As too many Americans have done this year, [the president] and I are quarantining at home after testing positive for COVID-19,” Melania Trump tweeted. “We are feeling good and I have postponed all upcoming engagements. Please be sure you are staying safe and we will all get through this together.”

Vice President Mike Pence his wife Karen Pence have both tested negative for the coronavirus, his spokesman Devin O’Malley said Friday.

“Vice President Pence remains in good health and wishes the Trumps well in their recovery,” O’Malley tweeted.

The White House canceled most of Trump’s schedule for Friday, which had included a roundtable discussion with supporters at the Trump International Hotel Washington and a campaign trip to central Florida.

The medical community notes that the president is at higher risk for severe COVID-19 and potential complications, given that he is 74 and is technically classified as “obese,” according to his White House records.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who participated in a debate with Trump on Tuesday in Cleveland, said he hopes the first couple recover quickly.

“Jill and I send our thoughts to President Trump and first lady Melania Trump for a swift recovery,” he tweeted. “We will continue to pray for the health and safety of the president and his family.”

Many who posted on social media following the diagnosis also expressed personal concern and well-wishes as the president and his wife went into quarantine.

“Karen and I send our love and prayers to our dear friends President [Trump] and [first lady] Melania Trump,” Pence tweeted earlier. “We join millions across America praying for their full and swift recovery. God bless you President Trump and our wonderful first lady Melania.”

“Wishing my friend [Donald Trump] and [the first lady] a quick recovery and good health,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.

“Best wishes to President Trump and the First Lady,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who recovered from the coronavirus disease earlier this year, said. “Hope they both have a speedy recovery from 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,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a major Trump ally, tweeted.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose relationship with Trump has been the subject of numerous criticisms, offered support in a telegram to the White House.

“I am certain that your inherent vitality, good spirits and optimism will help you cope with this dangerous virus,” he wrote.

Even some of Trump’s political opponents stepped back from partisan differences to express personal sympathy.

“We must all pray for the full recovery of the President and his wife,” the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., tweeted. “For whatever religious or political persuasion you may be, we must all pray as millions of people are affected by this disease.”

“I will keep the President and First Lady in my prayers, and I wish them a speedy recovery,” added Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif.

Others called attention to Trump’s frequent downplaying of the pandemic and his flouting of public health recommendations — including those from his own administration — by often refusing to wear a mask and holding indoor public rallies.

At the debate in Cleveland on Tuesday, none of Trump’s family in the limited audience were seen wearing masks, while all of Biden’s did.

The president should have expected this outcome, the critics say.

“He failed to protect the country. He couldn’t even protect himself,” George Conway of the Lincoln Project, a group of anti-Trump Republicans working against his re-election, tweeted.

“President Trump and the first lady have paid the price for his gamble to play down the COVID-19,” Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of Chinese state-owned newspaper The Global Times, tweeted.

Trump has repeatedly called COVID-19 the “China virus” and has blamed Beijing for the deadly outbreak, which has infected 34.3 million people and killed more than 1 million worldwide — including 7.3 million cases and about 208,000 deaths in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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