In an ironic development, China, the country that gave the world COVID-19 pandemic, plans to draw a ‘line of separation’ atop Mount Everest due to COVID-19 fears. The country cites Nepal’s COVID-19 outbreak as a reason for this move. The news comes just a few days after it was reported how the country had considered weaponizing SARS-CoV-2 in 2015.
Earlier, the mountaineering authorities at Everest base camp in Nepal revealed how there are increasing number of mountain climbers that have complained about COVID-19 symptoms. The mountaineering authorities are fearful of a serious outbreak at even the highest peak of the world where there are no civilizations. As many as 17 confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported earlier from Nepal’s Kathmandu. These 17 people were all part of the climbing crew that were sent from the base camp to the city capital for treatment.
The Chinese authorities will be creating a “line of separation” on either side of the Everest’s peak. The country has cited Nepal’s COVID-19 outbreak as a reason for doing so. China doesn’t want any Nepalese or person from the country to cross the border.
China to implement “Zero Contact Strategy”
According to the country-run news outlet called Xinhua, the Tibetan Sports Bureau’s head Nyima Tsering said how China’s plan is to continue its “zero contact strategy” which involves keeping all the mountain climbers from either of the Chinese and Nepalese sides from meeting, if they reach on the Everest’s summit at the same time.
Xinhua reported that the line of separation be like a cordon that will start from the northern most side of Mount Everest’s peak at Tibetan camps which are 8,300 meters above the sea level. It is at this point from where the mountaineers go on their expedition and finally reach the summit of the mountain.
Although it is not completely clear as to how the separation line will be drawn or from which point to which point will it be drawn at. Xinhua in its report stated that the line of separation will be created by a team of experienced mountaineering guides from Tibet.
It should be noted that China has banned mountaineers from visiting the Chinese side of Everest since the pandemic began last year. However, for the new 2021 season of the mountaineering, 21 expedition permits have already been granted to certain Chinese citizens who will be going to Mount Everest’s north side.
The China Tibet Mountaineering Association has already created a checkpoint that’s 300 meters from the base camp. At this check point the mountaineers are said to adapt to the low oxygen levels that are at most places with high altitude.
The base camp in question is on the Nepalese side which has been struck by COVID-19 cases since April 2021. Although so far there have been no reports of Nepal’s capital Kathmandu cancelling the spring climbing season. Although it can be an imperative for Nepal to do so, it should also be taken into consideration that tourism and mountaineering are two major sources of revenue for the country.
Nepal’s COVID-19 outbreak concerning
In the past few weeks, the daily case rate in Nepal has been seeing a sharp surge. According to AFP, 2 out of 5 people that are tested are infected with the virus. As many as 4,03,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Nepal with 9,100 fresh cases on May 10. For a country whose population is around 28 million, the numbers are a cause of severe concern.
Meanwhile, China, that was the origination country for the pandemic, has completely cut the chain of local transmission of COVID-19 cases and the new cases that are reported come from imported cases.