If the coronavirus pandemic scare did not feel dystopic enough until this point, it sure will now. The Nepal government has shut down access to the world’s highest mountain, Mount Everest, due to fears of the COVID-19 outbreak that has now engulfed the whole planet.
According to reports, all expedition attempts to the 29,029-ft high mountain peak stand canceled for the year, until further notice.
Local newspaper Kathmandu Post reported on Wednesday that the China Tibet Mountaineering Association, the body that issues climbing permits to Mahalanur Himal sub-range of the Himalayas, has notified all expeditions that all Everest ascents from the northern side had been canceled due to the Novel Coronavirus pandemic outbreak.
Earlier, China had already canceled all expeditions to Mount Everest from the northern, Tibetan side.
The measure is supposed to hit the economy of Nepal as the country earns significant revenue from issuing climbing permits to mountaineers. According to a BBC report, Nepal earns around Rs 30 crore each year only for issuing the permits, besides wider tourism revenue.
The Nepal government has already asked citizens to avoid mass gatherings like public functions and issued certain directives regarding individuals arriving in the country from abroad. Anyone who visits Nepal after March 14 has to stay 14 days in quarantine.
Although there is just one confirmed case of coronavirus infection in Nepal, the country shares its borders with nations that are seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases.
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across India is 75, with one death. While in China, the epicenter of the outbreak, the situation is the worst. With 80,981 confirmed (26 new cases and 3,173 (11 new deaths, the World Health Organisation has already placed China at a ‘Very High’ risk assessment level.
The global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has crossed 4,600 and more than 125,000 people in 118 countries have been infected around the world.