Published: 2021-04-23 17:13
Last Updated: 2021-05-17 16:12
Thursday, a Norwegian climber, Erlend Ness, hoping to climb to the peak of Mount Everest announced he has tested positive for the coronavirus, in a blow to Nepal’s hopes for a COVID-19-free mountaineering season on the mountain.
Ness evacuated from the mountain via helicopter and was taken to a hospital in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal after spending time at Everest base camp.
On Facebook, Ness told AFP reporters, “My diagnosis is COVID-19 (...) I am doing ok now (…) The hospital is taking care [of me].”
Last year, the mountaineering season was completely wiped out due to the pandemic, however, Nepal has since then eased restrictions and quarantine measures in attempts to attract climbers to the world's highest mountain peak.
Ness also told reporters that a Sherpa from his party (Tibetan ethnic group) was also infected with COVID-19.
“I really hope that none of the others get infected with corona[virus] high up in the mountains," he said, adding, "It is impossible to evacuate people with a helicopter when they are above 8,000 meters.”
On the mountain, breathing is difficult at high altitudes, therefore an outbreak of COVID-19 among climbers would pose huge health risks.
A hospital in the capital confirmed to reporters that it had taken in COVID-19 patients from Everest, however, they did not disclose a number.
The medical director of the hospital, Prativa Pandey, said, “I can’t share the details but some evacuated from Everest have tested positive.”
On the other hand, Nepal's department of tourism, denied any reports of COVID-19 cases among climbers.
“A person was evacuated on April 15 but we were informed that he is suffering from pneumonia and is being treated in isolation. That is all the information we have received,” said a tourism department spokesperson.