The coronavirus seems to be resistant to altitude. At the base camp at the foot of Mount Everest at a good 5,300 meters, there have apparently been further infections – even if these are still not officially confirmed. “More than 30 people have already been evacuated by helicopter to Kathmandu with suspected pulmonary edema – later found to be positive for coronavirus,” writes Polish climber Pawel Michalski from Everest Base Camp on Facebook today.
This coincides with information I received from another source. According to this, on average between six and eight people per day are currently being flown out by helicopter. Many of them do not have insurance that includes corona infection, it is said. Therefore, they are declared to suffer from high altitude sickness.
More than 400 Everest permits despite pandemic
The Nepalese government continues to say nothing. It has not yet confirmed a single case of corona in Everest Base Camp. Allegedly, the responsible Ministry of Tourism has even muzzled the expedition operators and threatened them with sanctions if they publicly comment on corona cases at base camp.
The reason is obvious. A cancellation of the season would be disastrous. After all, the ministry has issued more Everest permits for this spring than ever before: 408 to date. The climbing permits have already flushed around 4.2 million dollars (just under 3.5 million euros) into the meager state coffers. No wonder that the government obviously wants to push through the season with all means.
Yesterday it was reported that the ropes had been fixed up to the South Col at just below 8,000 meters. As there is currently little wind in the summit zone, the Sherpas will probably have secured the entire route to the highest point at 8,849 meters in the near future. Shortly thereafter, the first summit rush of commercial teams is expected.
Meanwhile, the corona situation in the country is worsening dramatically. Apparently, the current explosive spread of the coronavirus in neighboring India is spilling over into Nepal. The infection curve in the Himalayan state goes steeply upward. The authorities reported on Wednesday about 4,800 new cases, almost half of them in the Kathmandu valley. A new lockdown will be in effect there from Thursday: stores will only be allowed to open for a few hours a day, and road traffic will be restricted. For those entering Nepal, a mandatory ten-day quarantine in a hotel in Kathmandu is now in effect again.