Coronavirus: Nepal and China close Everest because of dangerous virus
The fear of contagion spreads after WHO officially declared the outbreak a pandemic. Spring is the most crowded season. The fee for the climb is US,000. In 2019 at least 885 climbers reached the top.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The governments of Nepal and China have decided to suspend expeditions to Mount Everest for fear of coronavirus infections. Beijing was first yesterday, followed today by Kathmandu.
The ban comes on the eve of the spring season (March-May), when climbing enthusiasts come in great numbers dreaming of reaching the highest peak in the world.
The suspension is a consequence of the rising rate of infections, which has now become a pandemic according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Only one positive case has been reported so far in Nepal, a student who returned from China.
Conversely, in China, where the emergency began, the number of cases has topped 80,000 with more than 3,000 dead. However, the number of new cases continues to drop.
Last year the Nepali authorities were forced to restrict the number of expeditions since the high number of climbers was becoming a strain for the delicate local ecosystem.
Despite the almost prohibitive fee for the climb (US,000, plus travel expenses), 2019 saw a record 885 climbers reach the summit of Mount Everest: 644 from the southern, Nepalie side and 241 from the northern, Tibetan side.
For Nepal, climbers represent one of the key component of the country’s tourism sector, bringing in some US million last year.
Last spring season, the mountain claimed the lives of 11 people, including at least four who died from overcrowding due to inexperience or fatigue.