China has decided to cancel the 2021 spring climbing season from the Tibetan side of Mount Everest, the world's tallest peak, because of coronavirus concerns, the official Xinhua news agency said on Saturday.
It cited a notice on Friday from the General Administration of Sport, following a severe pandemic situation.
The Himalayan nation of Nepal, which is so short of oxygen canisters it has asked mountaineers to bring back their empties, has issued a record 408 permits to climb Everest in the April-May season after last year's closure.
In contrast, a total of 21 Chinese climbers had secured approval for climbs in spring, Xinhua added.
Last Sunday, state media said China would establish "a line of separation" at the summit of Everest to prevent the mingling of climbers from Nepal and those ascending from the Tibetan side as a precautionary measure.
Everest has been scaled by more than 6,000 climbers since the first conquest by Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953. At least 311 people have died on the slopes of the mountain, which is 8,849 metres (29,032 ft) high.