Mount Everest: Coronavirus outbreak hits the top of the world

Climbers rejoiced when Nepal decided to reopen its side of Mount Everest this year, but reports suggest even the world’s highest peak isn’t safe from the spread of coronavirus.

Some climbers there have now reported testing positive, despite the Nepali government saying there are no infections on Everest.

Erland Ness, a Norwegian climber who was evacuated from Everest Base Camp in late April, tested positive on arrival at a hospital in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu.

Since then, Polish climber Pawel Michalski said in a Facebook post that “30 people have already been evacuated” from base camp and subsequently tested positive. And Everest ER, a voluntary organization that provides aid to those on the mountain, has said some climbers are isolating in their tents, “as we’ve had a few confirmed cases of Covid with evacuation from EBC (Everest Base Camp).”

Nepali government rules preventing mountaineers from sharing photos of other climbers without consent have restricted information coming from the mountain, but rumors are spreading of more cases on the Everest.

“When I tested positive, it was a shock. And then I realized that the expedition was over for me,” Ness said. “My dream was to reach the summit and see the view.”

The apparent infections at Everest Base Camp come as Nepal, like neighboring India, has been battling a new surge in coronavirus cases and deaths.

Last month, Nepal’s Department of Tourism reported that despite the pandemic, it expected the number of climbing permits this year nearly to equal the record 381 issued in 2019.