President Trump’s disclosure that he had been infected by the coronavirus sent a shudder around the world on Friday, shaking global markets and drawing sympathy from leaders who have grappled with the pandemic in their own countries and more pointed responses from critics who noted Mr. Trump’s own cavalier handling of the threat.
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. And Mr. Johnson suffered a serious bout of Covid-19, ending 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 risks 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.
Global markets dropped Friday after Mr. Trump disclosed that he and his wife have the virus, throwing into doubt the political leadership of the world’s largest economy.
Financial markets fell in Asia, and European markets opened more than 1 percent lower with some markets recovering slightly as the day went on. Wall Street was set to open sharply lower, according to futures markets, but intense volatility suggested that investors will still be parsing how strongly to react to the news. Investments that are more sensitive to economic and policy shifts fell quickly. Oil futures slid on Friday along with stocks, while other commodities fell too.
Expression of concerns and good wishes for Mr. Trump’s speedy recovery — as well as that of the first lady, Melania Trump — poured in from leaders in Britain, India, Russia and other countries.
Some foreign commentators, however, took note of Mr. Trump’s handling of the pandemic, saying it was a reminder of a virus that drew no distinctions between rich or poor, weak or powerful.
Others suggested a degree of justice in his diagnosis, given his record of diminishing the threat of the virus, refusing simple precautions like wearing a face mask and holding campaign rallies without social distancing.
“When the president of the United States, the most powerful person in the world, can catch this, the virus has no boundaries,” said Wang Huiyao, the founder and president of the Center for China and Globalization, an influential research group in Beijing.