Covid: Climber becomes first to test positive at Mount Everest

23 April 2021, 14:37 | Updated: 23 April 2021, 14:40

A Norwegian climber tested positive for Covid-19 at base camp
A Norwegian climber tested positive for Covid-19 at base camp. Picture: ChinaImages/SIPA USA/PA Images

By Will Taylor

A climber has become the first person to test positive for coronavirus infection at Mount Everest base camp.

Norwegian Erlend Ness was helicoptered out and taken to hospital in Kathmandu in Nepal.

It has sparked fears that Covid-19 could spread among the hundreds of climbers, guides and helpers at the base if they do not take precautions and are not checked immediately .

Mr Ness said told Associated Press that he tested positive on April 15 but after a negative test on Thursday he is now staying with a local family.

Read more: Dozens more cases of Indian coronavirus variant detected in UK

Mira Acharya, director at the Nepalese Department of Mountaineering, insisted there were no active cases on the mountains.

But mountain guide Lukas Furtenbach warned any outbreak could end the climbing season, ahead of expected good weather in May.

Climbing Mount Everest was cancelled last year due to the pandemic
Climbing Mount Everest was cancelled last year due to the pandemic. Picture: Aryan Dhimal/Zuma Press/PA Images

The Austrian, who is leading a team of 18 to Everest and its sister peak Mount Lhotse, said Mr Ness had lived with others for weeks.

"We would need now most urgently mass testing in base camp, with everyone tested and every team being isolated, no contact between teams," he added.

"That needs to be done now, otherwise it is too late."

Read more: 'A great day of hope': War-torn Syria receives first Covid vaccines

Mountaineering was closed last year after the coronavirus outbreak spread and this year marked the first time climbers arrived to the highest mountain on Earth since May 2019.

The climbing season in Nepal runs from March to May.

Ms Acharya said only illnesses like pneumonia and altitude sickness had been reported.

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