Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, would not appear to be protected from Covid-19, with stories rising of multiple climbers testing positive on the base camp in Nepal.
The first Covid-19 case on the base camp this yr was detected in late April. However, the Nepali authorities has maintained that there aren’t any infections in the Everest base camp.
According to The Washington Post, the Nepal Mountaineering Association has confirmed solely 4 Covid-19 circumstances on the base camp — three climbers and one native information.
However, Polish climber Pawel Michalski wrote final week that “more than 30 people have already been evacuated to Kathmandu in helicopters with suspected pulmonary edema — later found to be positive for coronavirus”.
Rojita Adhikari, a climber who examined constructive a number of days after she left the bottom camp on April 19, mentioned there have been a number of unreported circumstances. “The Nepal Government is still denying there is a Covid-19 outbreak at Everest base camp, despite emerging evidence. Why is the government hiding the truth?” she tweeted.
“At camp I saw many sick people. At a gorakshep (a small village that is the last stop on most treks to base camp) hotel, there were a few sick climbers isolating as well. I found Covid-19 is so common around the camp. They took it so easily,” Adhikari advised The Washington Post.
Record variety of permits issued
The stories come at a time when Nepal itself has witnessed a surge in Covid-19 circumstances. An common of 6,700 circumstances at the moment are reported each day as of May 5, a rise from 1,100 simply two weeks earlier.
This yr a record variety of 408 expedition permits had been issued for Mount Everest after the 2020 climbing season was cancelled because of the pandemic, main to large losses for the tourism-dependent Nepal economic system. In reality, Everest expeditions alone contributed greater than $300 million to the economic system in 2019.
Nepal’s tourism division requires a unfavorable Covid-19 test 72 hours earlier than coming into the nation. But in late March, the federal government eliminated a seven-day quarantine requirement to revive the nation’s $2 billion tourism trade.
What has compounded issues is that there isn’t a option to test climbers on the mountain except they carry their very own kits. Prakash Karel, a health care provider who treats sufferers on the Everest base camp, mentioned his clinic would not have laboratory permission to test for Covid-19.
“And high altitude makes it difficult to identify Covid-19 from cough and HAPE [high-altitude pulmonary edema], which is common here,” he advised The Washington Post. Besides, unventilated camps and camps shut to 1 one other make it simpler for the an infection to unfold, he mentioned.
Some information corporations are taking their very own precautions. Furtenbach Adventures is working “flash expeditions” that final three to 4 weeks as a substitute of the same old nine-week journey. They are offering climbers with hypoxic tents, used at residence to assist them get acclimatised to excessive altitudes, a course of that often requires a four-week keep at base camp.
Erlend Ness, the primary climber on the Everest base camp to test constructive, advised The Washington Post that he began feeling in poor health two days earlier than reaching the bottom camp. He examined constructive three days later at a hospital in Kathmandu.
‘Dilemma about whether or not to cancel the season’
Dr Karel mentioned there was a “dilemma” about cancelling the expedition season. Some corporations have determined to name off their expeditions for the second yr in a row.
Another doctor, chatting with the Explorersweb weblog, mentioned, “Many climbers are isolated in their tents at the moment. In Kathmandu, hospitals are not yet at full capacity, but ICUs are filling up quickly.”
Lukas Furtenbach, the proprietor of Furtenbach Adventures, mentioned guiding corporations had been being criticised for working expeditions amid the Covid-19 pandemic. “But, our local staff here needs the money to feed their families,” he advised The Washington Post.