LONDON (NYTIMES, REUTERS) - The world has shuddered at the announcement that US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania had contracted coronavirus and were entering quarantine, just a month before the Nov 3 presidential election.
Mr Trump is not the first world leader to be infected. Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain and President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil both tested positive. Mr Johnson ended up in an intensive care unit where, he said later, “things could have gone either way.”
But Mr Trump, 74, is older and at higher risk than either of those men. The news of an American president contracting a potentially lethal virus carried global repercussions beyond that of any other world leader.
Financial markets fell in Asia and looked set to open lower in Europe and the United States.
Expressions of concern and good wishes for Mr Trump’s speedy recovery — as well as that of the first lady, Melania Trump — poured in from leaders and officials from various countries.
Here are some of the reactions:
- US Vice-President Mike Pence in a tweet: "Karen and I send our love and prayers to our dear friends President @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS Melania Trump. We join millions across America praying for their full and swift recovery. God bless you President Trump & our wonderful First Lady Melania."
- Mr Trump's presidential rival Joe Biden and his wife Jill: "Jill and I send our thoughts to President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for a swift recovery. We will continue to pray for the health and safety of the president and his family."
- Mr Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump: "Praying for the swift recovery of my father and Melania and for all those impacted by COVID-19. As they fight this together, the President will continue to fight for the people of this great country."
- Russian President Vladimir Putin was quoted by the Kremlin as saying: "I am convinced that your vitality, good spirits and optimism will help you cope with this dangerous virus.”
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel said via her spokesman on Twitter: "I send Donald and Melania Trump all my good wishes... I hope that they recover well from their corona infection and will be quite healthy again soon."
- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: "My best wishes to President Trump and the First Lady.”
- European Union chief Charles Michel said in a tweet: “Wishing @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS a speedy recovery. Covid-19 is a battle we all continue to fight. Everyday. No matter where we live.”
- France's government spokesman Gabriel Attal: "This demonstrates that the virus spares no one, including those who have shown scepticism. I wish him a swift recovery."
- India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet: “Wishing my friend @POTUS @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS a quick recovery and good health.”
- South Korean President Moon Jae-in said: "Together with the people of the Republic of Korea, my wife and I wish you and the First Lady a speedy recovery. We would also like to convey our sincere words of encouragement and support to your family and the people of the United States of America."
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "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.”
- Polish President Andrzej Duda tweeted: "Our good wishes for speedy recovery to our Friends @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS. #Poland and #USA will get through the hardships and succeed in fighting #COVID19.”
- Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said on Twitter: “Our best wishes to @realDonaldTrump & @FLOTUS for a speedy recovery & return to full health. The government & people of Taiwan stand with the U.S. at this testing time.”
- World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wished the couple “a full and speedy recovery”.
- The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction tweeted, “Nobody is immune from #COVID19.”
- Wang Huiyao, the founder and president of the Center for China and Globalization, an influential research group in Beijing: “When the president of the United States, the most powerful person in the world, can catch this, the virus has no boundaries.”
“He probably serves as a good reminder to the whole world that, as US experts have said, it is important to wear a mask.”
- Mr Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of China's Global Times, in a tweet: "President Trump and the First Lady have paid the price for his gamble to play down Covid-19. The news shows the severity of the US' pandemic situation. It will impose a negative impact on the image of Trump and the US, and may also negatively affect his re-election."
- China Daily, China's official English language newspaper, said: "The positive test is yet another reminder that the coronavirus continues to spread, even as Trump has tried desperately to suggest it no longer poses a danger. Since it emerged earlier this year, Trump, the White House and his campaign have played down the threat and refused to abide by basic public health guidelines - including those issued by his own administration - such as wearing masks in public and practicing social distancing. Instead, Trump has continued to hold campaign rallies that draw thousands of supporters. The virus has killed more than 200,000 Americans and infected more than 7 million nationwide."
- Mr Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy, AMP Capital, Sydney, said: "There might be a sympathy vote for Trump if he gets the coronavirus. The market's already a little bit on edge because of the upcoming election and the failure of talks to result in a new fiscal stimulus.
"You can imagine all sorts of scenarios here. If he tests positive and then just shows mild symptoms, it will be over in a few days. If he gets ill and has to go to hospital, the market will be a lot more concerned. Obviously, to the extent campaigning comes to a halt, it might increase fears that he might lose the election.
"Generally speaking, the market prefers the incumbent to win and the general preference has been for Trump to win because he will mean lower taxes and less regulation than a Biden presidency.
"But the whole issue around fiscal stimulus is complicated because, if Trump loses and the Democrats win and they get control of the Senate and the House, it makes fiscal stimulus assured, which will offset the impact of the tax hikes. The market would probably be happy to see a Biden presidency with a clean sweep."
- Mr Naoya Oshikubo, senior economist, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Asset Management, said: "Trump has been trailing behind Biden and he has clearly failed to narrow the gap after the first debate, which is the most important of the three debates. I suspect markets will lean towards the view that Biden will likely win the election.
"What I am worried is that he will become even more aggressive against China after he caught the virus himself for I got the impression that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has become more anti-China after he had Covid-19.
"For the time being it will be difficult for financial markets to be on risk-on mood."
- Radoslaw Sikorski, a former Polish foreign minister who is now a member of the European Parliament, wrote on Twitter, “Mr. President @realDonaldTrump, I suggest you do not try to treat yourself with bleach.”