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China calls off climbing season at Mountain Everest to keep Covid-19 at bay

China cancels climbing on Mountain Everest

China has decided to cancel the 2021 spring climbing season from the Tibetan side of Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, to prevent the spread of Covid-19, said on Saturday.

It cited a notice on Friday from the General Administration of Sport, following a severe pandemic situation.

China had earlier this month decided to set up a "separation line" on the peak of Mount Everest to avoid possible Covid-19 infections by mountaineers from the Nepal side.

The announcement came after 30 climbers with Covid-19 symptoms were evacuated from the base camp on the Nepalese side of the world's highest mountain in recent weeks.

Mount Everest is situated on the China-Nepal border, with the northern slope falling on the Chinese side.

Tibetan authorities had said at a press conference they would take the "most stringent epidemic prevention measures" to avoid contact between climbers on the north and south slopes or at the top, a Xinhua report had said.

China had given approval to 21 mountaineers to climb to the summit of Mount Everest this year after having quarantined in Tibet since early April, the official said.

However, this year Nepal has issued a record number of 408 climbing permits to try and boost visitors after its tourism industry suffered a devastating blow in 2020 from the pandemic as mountaineering expeditions to Mount Everest were stopped  

An Everest permit alone from Nepal costs $11,000 and climbers pay more than $40,000 for an expedition.

More than a thousand people are usually camped at the base of Mount Everest on the Nepalese side during the climbing season, including foreign climbers and the teams of Nepali guides that escort them to the peak.