China shuts Mount Everest to climbers over Covid-19 fears

China suspended climbing of Mount Everest from the Tibetan side amidst the rising fear of catching coronavirus from neighbouring Nepal climbers.

According to Xinhua News Agency, China’s General Administration of Sport says it has suspended the only permission that allows a company to organize climbing activities from the Tibetan side.

The cancellation is made to prevent “import of coronavirus,” the statement read.

A total of 21 Chinese climbers had obtained climbing permits in the spring climbing season of 2021 before the cancellation, according to the agency.

On May 9, Chinese state media reported that the country was planning to set up a “line of separation” at the summit of Mount Everest to avoid climbers from the Nepali side mingling with those ascending from the Tibetan side, as a way to deter the spread of the coronavirus.

READ: China to draw ‘border’ on Everest with Nepal to prevent climbers from mingling

Coronavirus cases have been rising rapidly in Nepal. The nation has reported over 60,000 new infections over the past week.

The rise in cases has also led an international expedition operator to abandon its attempt to scale Mount Everest from the Nepal side.

Nepal this year granted more than 400 permits to climbers, its highest number ever, despite concerns that the season could cause a spike and increase pressure on nearby hospitals in Kathmandu.