The US president dropped a bombshell early on Friday (Oct. 2) by tweeting that he and Melania Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus. The revelation came shortly after Trump said he and the first lady would go into quarantine, as one of his close aides Hope Hicks, who had traveled on the same plane as Trump this week, also confirmed a positive test a day earlier.
Trump is 74 and overweight, both factors that put him in a high-risk category when it comes to Covid-19. Election rival Joe Biden, who has not contracted the virus, is 77 and would also be at risk. But there are precedents of world leaders getting the virus and recovering relatively quickly:
UK prime minister Boris Johnson
The 55-year-old minister tested positive for the virus in March, and initially continued working while in self-isolation. But he had to spend three nights at the intensive care unit in a London hospital to receive oxygen treatment. He was discharged in April, and returned to 10 Downing Street that month. Johnson has described the virus as an “unexpected and invisible mugger.”
Russian prime minister Mikhail Mishustin
Mishustin, who took office in January, and was diagnosed with the virus on April 30. He kept working via video conference while in hospital. Mishustin recovered from the illness in May and has returned to work at the Kremlin.
Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro
Similar to Trump, Bolsonaro had also played down the seriousness of Covid-19, which he described as a “little flu,” before he himself contracted it in early July. He announced on July 25 that he tested negative for the virus on Facebook, along with a photo of a box of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which has not been scientifically proven as a cure but counts Trump and the Brazilian president as strong supporters who believe in its efficacy.
Australian home affairs minister Peter Dutton
Dutton said he got the virus in March, after his trip to the US, where he also met public figures like Ivanka Trump, the US attorney-general William Barr, and officials from the Five Eyes intelligence alliance. Neither Ivanka nor the Australian prime minister had to self-isolate as they either did not show any symptoms or didn’t have close contact with Dutton, who has since recovered.
Iran’s deputy health minister Iraj Harirchi
Harirchi announced the diagnosis in late February, when the country was grappling with rising coronavirus cases that made it one of the hot spots for the pandemic outside of China at the time. Harichi had been seen sweating and coughing occasionally before he confirmed he had the virus. He “fully recovered” in March, according to Iranian health minister Saeed Namaki.
Israel’s former housing minister Yaakov Litzman
The minister and his wife got the virus in April. Litzman played a prominent role in fighting the pandemic, and had famously said Covid-19 was a “divine punishment for homosexuality” before he tested positive. Although he has recovered, he resigned in September as he was unhappy about a government proposal to lock down the whole country during Tishrei, one of the most important parts of the Jewish calendar.
EU’s chief negotiator for Brexit Michel Barnier
Barnier announced the news of his positive test in March, making him the first senior Brussels official to confirm that they have the illness. The episode raised concerns about how the UK and the EU could continue their already highly strained negotiations on Brexit, but luckily, Barnier recovered from the virus in less than a month.
The 71-year-old heir to the British throne displayed mild symptoms of the disease in March and tested positive for the virus while his wife, 72-year-old Camilla, tested negative. The two subsequently went into self-quarantine in their home in Scotland. Charles recovered and later opened a new coronavirus hospital in London.