China to Draw Line on Everest

Government wants its climbers to keep their distance from Nepal's during outbreak
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2021 7:30 PM CDT
Social Distancing Reaches Everest
Mount Everest is seen from the way to Kalapatthar in Nepal in 2015. China plans a "separation line" to keep climbers from different sides apart.   (AP Photo/Tashi Sherpa, File)

COVID-19 restrictions have reached the top of the world. After an increase in coronavirus cases on Mount Everest, China plans a "line of separation" at the summit to keep climbers from its side from coming into close contact with climbers from Nepal, the BBC reports. Everest is on the border between the two. There's room at the summit for six people at a time, and a line to reach it often forms. In recent weeks, more than 30 climbers who fell ill were evacuated from the Nepal side of Everest, and officials at a clinic at the base camp reported that climbers flown out had tested positive for the virus. Although it's dealing with a rapidly worsening coronavirus outbreak, Nepal has issued about 400 permits to foreign climbers this season. China is not allowing foreigners to climb Everest.

Guides will put up the line; they're climbing next to rope-fixing teams preparing paths for the season. They'll cordon off the north side of the peak, per NPR. And China won't allow its climbers to touch any objects that have been left at the peak or come into contact with anyone from the other side. Most climbers already wear masks at the summit—29,031.7 feet above sea level—the New York Times points out, to take in oxygen and help with the cold. A checkpoint at the Chinese base camp will provide temperature checks and disinfection for climbers, and possibly put them in isolation. Nepal reported more than 9,100 new infections on Monday. The COVID-19 death toll has topped 3,900 in the nation of about 28 million people. (More Mount Everest stories.)

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