First Case of COVID-19 Reported at Base Camp at Mount Everest

The rest of the infected alpinist's team has been forced to quarantine themselves at Base Camp

Mount Everest
A view of Mount Everest.
Martin Jernberg/Unsplash

Originally thought to be suffering from high-altitude pulmonary edema after arriving at Base Camp at Mount Everest, an alpinist who was flown by helicopter to a hospital in Nepal tested positive for COVID-19, according to Outside.

Following the positive test, the rest of the infected alpinist’s team has been forced to quarantine themselves at Base Camp, the starting point for expeditions hoping to summit the world’s tallest peak 5.5 miles above sea level.

And, per The New York Times, that patient was just one of multiple climbers to test positive at CIWEC Hospital in Kathmandu after being flown there in recent days from Base Camp.

The hospital’s medical director, Prativa Pandey, indicated officials at Everest Base Camp are trying to ensure that groups of climbers are not mingling with one another. “We are taking it up with the health ministry to see what we can do for the safety of climbers and staff up there,” Dr. Pandey said.

After opening the mountain back up in a bid to recoup some of the money that has been lost due to the lack of foreign tourists over the past year or so, the Nepalese government has issued 371 climbing permits to Everest climbers, and that number could increase shortly. In 2019, 381 Everest hopefuls attempted the climb, leading to 11 deaths. 

“The camp is as big as 2019, there is no difference,” Noel Hanna of Northern Ireland, who is at Base Camp for his third time, told Outside. “Everything seems to be the same. The way I look at COVID, if I get it, I get it. It’s just the gamble you take.”

Mingma Sherpa, the chairman of Nepal’s largest Everest expedition operator, told The Times that climbers will still continue to venture to the top, positive tests be damned. “Expeditions won’t be canceled,” he said. “There’s no point of returning or giving up climbing after reaching Base Camp.”

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