17 Mount Everest Climbers Test Positive for Covid19
Seventeen mountaineers have tested positive for Covid19, Mount Everest base camp officials stated Wednesday. With several other mountaineers reporting symptoms of the disease, local authorities fear a serious outbreak.
Nepal has the highest rate of Covid19 infections among the countries neighboring India.
Mount Everest expeditions reopened in April this year after they were shut throughout 2020 due to the pandemic; foreign mountain climbers bring in a large amount of revenue for the country.
Though the mountaineers have displayed symptoms of Covid19, confirming they have the viral infection is difficult, as altitude sickness has similar symptoms, such as shortness of breath, pain, and fatigue. Currently, the Nepalese government has denied any knowledge of these positive cases.
“You can hear people coughing everywhere,” Lukas Furtenbach, a mountaineer at the base camp of Everest, told the BBC. “But this is not just the regular cough that mountaineers catch here. You can make it out that people are in pain and they have other symptoms like fever and body aches.”
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This is further complicated by no Covid19 testing centers near the camp. “We had requested a testing facility but the government said they could not give the permission,” Dr. Prakash Kharel, who works at the camp clinic, told the BBC.
However, a Nepalese army official at the base camp states there is no clarity on the details of the seventeen confirmed cases or the identities of the sick Everet climbers. “That would have helped us in contact tracing and containing the spread much earlier,” the official told the BBC. “We could have then isolated the climbers who had come in contact with those who tested positive much earlier.”