Mingma Gyalje Sherpa is fed up. He doesn’t want to wait any longer for the government in Kathmandu to get going. The head of the Nepalese operator Imagine Nepal canceled the expeditions to the eight-thousanders Manaslu and Dhaulagiri planned for this fall season. “The Nepal government ended a three months lockdown without proper planning and resulted in a rapid increase of corona cases in Nepal,” Mingma explained his decision on Facebook. “The international airport will be opened from 17 August 2020 but there is no guideline prepared yet. We are still not sure if it is obligatory to stay 14 days in quarantine or not.”
Two corona tests and a 14-day quarantine?
The newspaper “Kathmandu Post” reported today, citing government officials, about a bill requiring tourists to present a negative corona test on entry, which should not be older than 72 hours. A further test in Nepal in hospitals designated by the government should be obligatory – as well as a two-week quarantine in the hotel and a travel insurance policy that includes COVID-19. This has not yet been officially confirmed.
So far (as of 7 August) more than 22,000 corona infections have been registered in Nepal, 70 people died of COVID-19 according to official data. Due to the limited testing possibilities in the Himalayan state, a high number of unreported cases must be assumed. And the number of infections continues to rise. Hospitals in the capital Kathmandu have reached the limits of their capacity due to the corona pandemic and have already had to turn away patients. The situation is similar in the border province with India, which was particularly hard hit by the pandemic.
Some cancel, others continue
“In a few weeks, the worst situation could be upon us,” writes Mingma Gyalje Sherpa to me. Like him, Guy Cotter, head of the New Zealand company Adventure Consultants, has cancelled his planned expeditions in Nepal. “Some operators are rushing back there,” Guy wrote yesterday on Facebook, ” but I feel it is too soon as there is too much to lose if tourists take COVID to the Khumbu which has been protected until now.”
Other operators seem to be less critical of the situation in Nepal. Nepalese companies like Seven Summit Treks, but also US operators like Summit Climb or Madison Mountaineering continue to promote their expeditions in the upcoming fall season.