KATHMANDU, Nepal – A seasoned climbing guide said Saturday that a coronavirus outbreak on Mount Everest has infected at least 100 climbers and aid workers. This is the first comprehensive estimate given the official Nepalese rejection of a COVID-19 cluster at the world’s highest peak.
Lukas Furtenbach of Austria, who was the only prominent outfitter last week to stop his Everest expedition due to virus fears, said one of his foreign guides and six Nepalese Sherpa guides had tested positive.
“I think with all the confirmed cases we know now – confirmed by (rescue) pilots, by insurance companies, by doctors, by expedition leaders – I have the positive tests so that we can prove this,” Furtenbach told The Associated Press in Nepal’s capital. Kathmandu.
“We have at least 100 people who are at least COVID positive in base camp, and then the numbers could be around 150 or 200,” he said.
He said it was obvious that there were many cases at Everest Base Camp because he could visibly see people were sick and hear people coughing in their tents.
A total of 408 foreign climbers were given permission to climb Everest this season, supported by several hundred Sherpa guides and auxiliary staff who have been stationed at the base camp since April.
Nepalese mountaineering officials have denied that there are active cases among climbers and support staff in all base camps for the country’s Himalayan mountains this season. Mountaineering was closed last year due to the pandemic.
The Nepalese officials could not be reached immediately for comment on Saturday. Other climbing teams have not announced any COVID-19 infections among their members or employees. Several climbers have reported positive tests after falling from Everest base camp.
Furtenbach said most of the teams on the mountain did not have virus testing kits with them and that before his team retired, they helped run tests and confirmed two cases.
Most of the teams are still at base camp and are hoping for clear weather next week so they can finally reach the summit before the climbing season ends at the end of the month, Furtenbach said.
In late April, a Norwegian climber was the first to test positive at Everest Base Camp. He was flown to Kathmandu by helicopter, where he received treatment and later returned home.
Nepal is experiencing a virus surge with record numbers of new infections and deaths. China canceled climbing its side of Mount Everest last week amid fears that the virus could spread from the Nepalese side.
Nepal reported 8,607 new infections and 177 deaths on Friday, bringing the total to more than 497,000 infections and 6,024 deaths since the pandemic began.