At least one climber on Mount Everest has tested positive for Covid-19, just weeks after the world’s tallest peak reopened to climbers following a year of closure.
Norwegian climber Erlend Ness was isolated in hospital for eight nights due to the virus, he said. Reports say a sherpa in his party had also tested positive for the virus. The outbreak is a blow to Nepal, which relies heavily on income generated from Everest expeditions.
Mr Ness is unsure where he could have caught the virus, but raised the possibility of catching it whilst in one of the tea houses along the Khumbu Valley.
He added that he could have “done more” to protect himself, such as being more diligent with handwashing, and wearing a mask all day.
“Not many people used masks on the trek,” recalled Mr Ness, who had been feeling sick for about six days in the mountains before being evacuated on April 15 by helicopter.
He was taken to two different hospitals in the Nepali capital Kathmandu, and tested positive for the virus three times. He has since recovered, testing negative on April 22 – and is now staying with friends in the city.
Hundreds of foreign climbers are expected to attempt the ascent this spring season, which began in April, after the slopes were shut off due to the pandemic.
Aside from wider tourism revenue, Nepal earns $4m (£3.1m) by issuing Everest climbing permits every year, according to the Kathmandu Post.
All travellers entering Nepal must present a negative Covid report, taken within 72 hours of their first flight, according to Nepal’s Department of Immigration.
Passengers from counties with new Covid variants will be subject to an additional 10 days of hotel quarantine. If a test comes back negative after five days, they will be allowed to spend their remaining five days in home quarantine.