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Coronavirus reaches Mount Everest as climber tests positive

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A Norwegian climber has confirmed that he tested positive for COVID-19 at the base camp on the south side of Mount Everest in Nepal, in a blow to the South Asia country ahead of the bumper mountaineering season on the world’s highest peak.

The pandemic crumbled last year’s season but Nepal has eased quarantine rules in an effort to attract more climbers. 

“My diagnosis is COVID-19,” Erlend Ness told the AFP news agency in a Facebook message. “I am doing ok now … The hospital is taking care (of me).”

The Norweigan was reportedly evacuated from the slopes by helicopter and taken to a hospital in the Nepali capital Kathmandu after spending time at Everest base camp.

“I really hope that none of the others get infected with corona high up in the mountains. It is impossible to evacuate people with a helicopter when they are above 8,000 metres [26,246 feet],” Ness told NRK.

“The plan was to get fast high up in the mountains to make sure that we wouldn’t get infected … I’ve been unlucky and I could have done more by myself when it comes to sanitary precautions,” Ness added.

One hospital in Kathmandu confirmed it had taken in patients from Everest who had contracted coronavirus but could not give a number.

“I can’t share the details but some evacuated from Everest have tested positive,” Prativa Pandey, the medical director at Kathmandu’s CIWEC Hospital, told AFP.

But Mira Acharya, a spokesperson for Nepal’s tourism department, said it had so far not received any reports of COVID-19 among climbers.

“A person was evacuated on April 15 but we were informed that he is suffering from pneumonia and is being treated in isolation. That is all the information we have received,” she said.

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