San Francisco Chronicle

Virus spreads to climbers on Mt. Everest


Nepal’s coronaviru­s outbreak, which is growing faster than almost anywhere else in the world, has spread to the remote Himalayas, with an increasing number of climbers testing positive after being evacuated from the base camps of Mount Everest and surroundin­g peaks.

In recent weeks, several climbers have been flown out of Mount Everest Base Camp after reporting symptoms of COVID19, then tested positive after reaching Kathmandu, the capital. On Wednesday, Nepalese news outlets reported that 14 climbers, including foreigners and Sherpa guides, were being airlifted from Mount Dhaulagiri, another major peak, to Kathmandu for treatment after some were found to be infected.

The cases have raised fears for the safety of climbers and their Nepalese guides who are pushing ahead with expedition­s in the forbidding, highaltitu­de terrain, where doctors say they are already vulnerable to illness, lower blood oxygen levels and weaker immunity. Hundreds of climbers and Sherpas are isolating in their tents in gusty conditions at Everest base camp, trying to guard against infection while preparing to begin their ascent to the 29,000foot summit.

Nepal’s government — determined to revive its lucrative mountainee­ring industry after a total shutdown last year — continues to deny that there is any outbreak at Everest base camp and has released no informatio­n about the number of climbers who have been evacuated.

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