Everest Climber Tests Positive

Mountain guide says mass COVID-19 testing is urgently needed
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 23, 2021 4:51 AM CDT
COVID Reaches Mount Everest
Mountain guide Lukas Furtenbach speaks during an interview with Associated Press in Kathmandu, Nepal, Friday, April 23, 2021.   (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)

The coronavirus has conquered the world's highest mountain. A Norwegian climber became the first to be tested for COVID-19 in Mount Everest base camp and was flown by helicopter to Kathmandu, where he was hospitalized. Erlend Ness tells the AP that he tested positive on April 15. He says another test on Thursday was negative and he is now staying with a local family in Nepal. Austrian mountain guide Lukas Furtenbach warned that the virus could spread among the hundreds of other climbers, guides, and helpers who are now camped on the base of Everest if all of them are not checked immediately and safety measures are taken. Any outbreak could prematurely end the climbing season, just ahead of a window of good weather in May, he said.

"We would need now most urgently mass testing in base camp, with everyone tested and every team being isolated, no contact between teams," said Furtenbach. "That needs to be done now, otherwise it is too late." Furtenbach, leading a team of 18 climbers to Mount Everest and its sister peak Mount Lhotse, said there could be more than just one case on the mountain as the Norwegian had lived with several others for weeks. Mountaineering was closed last year due to the pandemic and climbers returned to Everest this year for the first time since May 2019.

(More coronavirus stories.)

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