China cancels Everest climbs over fears of virus from Nepal

International

FILE – In this May 16, 2020, file photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Chinese surveyors hike toward a higher spot from the base camp on Mount Qomolangma at an altitude of 5,200 meters. China has opened the spring Everest claiming season from the northern approach amid strict measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. A total of 38 people have been issued permits to climb the world’s highest peak, known as Qomolongma in Tibetan, between March 31 and May 20, state media reported Friday, May 7, 2021. (Jigme Dorje/Xinhua via AP, File)

BEIJING (AP) — China has canceled attempts to climb Mount Everest from its side of the world’s highest peak because of fears of importing COVID-19 cases from neighboring Nepal, state media reported.

The closure was confirmed in a notice Friday from China’s General Administration of Sport, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The move reflects the abundance of caution China has taken in dealing with the pandemic. While China has mostly curbed domestic transmission of the coronavirus, Nepal is experiencing a surge with record numbers of new infections and deaths.

China had issued permits to 38 people, all Chinese citizens, to climb the 8,849-meter (29,032-foot) -high mountain this spring. Nepal has given permission to 408 people. Climbing was not allowed from either side last year because of the pandemic.

In Nepal, several climbers have reported testing positive for COVID-19 after they were brought down from the Everest base camp.

The month of May usually has the best weather for climbing Everest. Scores have reached the summit this week and more are expected to make attempts later this month once the weather improves. Two climbers have died on the Nepalese side, one Swiss and one American.

China earlier said it would set up a separation line at the peak and prohibit people on its side from coming into contact with anyone on the Nepalese side. It was unclear how that would be done.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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