The coronavirus disease (Covid-19) has not spared even the world's highest peaks. Along with the Norwegian climber it infected on Mount Everest in late April, the virus has struck climbers on the world's seventh-highest peak -- Dhaulagiri -- 345 kilometers (214 miles) west of Everest. A CNN report quoting the chairperson of tour operator Seven Summits Trek Mingma Sherpa says that at least 19 people have been evacuated from the camps of the mountain out of which seven tested positive and 12 others were scheduled to take a test after showing symptoms.
On Everest too, 30 people have been evacuated from base camp and subsequently tested positive after April, according to Polish climber Pawel Michalski's Facebook post.
The highly virulent virus, which has infected more than 156 million and killed over 3 million people around the world, according to the real-time statistics provider website Worldometers, forced China to cancel permits to the world's highest peak in March last year. Soon after, Nepal too called off all expeditions to the peak from its side of the mountain. Now that the restrictions have been eased, a year later, the 8848.86 meters-tall mountain issued a record 394 permits for expeditions till April, according to news agency PTI.
Nepal generates a large part of its revenue from the tourism sector. Many Nepalis depend on climbing for their livelihoods. After last year's season was called off due to the pandemic, this year's permits are rays of hope for numerous local guides, sherpas and chefs. The tourists will attempt to bubble and socially distance. However, according to experts, following Covid-appropriate behaviour may be tough. "Base camp is really a small city," said veteran Everest watcher Alan Arnette, and according to Furtenbach Adventure, there are around 1,200 people at the camp this year.