The coronavirus outbreak has reached the top of the world.
Nepal announced on Friday it is shutting down all expeditions on Mount Everest for the rest of this year’s climbing season amid the worsening global pandemic.
The move followed reports from climbers that the Chinese government has shut the Tibet side of the mountain.
“Expeditions to Mount Everest have been closed with immediate effect. Climbing permits are canceled till the end of April,” Nepal’s Tourism Secretary Kedar Bahadur Adhikari said.
The decision comes at the start of this year’s closely watched climbing season, which was already getting underway amid concerns around overcrowding on the Earth’s highest peak. Permits to climb Everest cost around $11,000.
Breathing is hampered by the extreme altitudes on the mountain, so an outbreak of the coronavirus — which often causes respiratory problems — could have been particularly devastating at an Everest base camp.
Adrian Ballinger, head of the group Alpenglow Expeditions, had said earlier this week that he was informed by the Chinese government agency responsible for granting permission to climb the Tibetan side of the mountain that access has been stopped there as well.
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