Amid fears of COVID-19 spreading, China plans to create a physical “line of separation” at the summit of Mount Everest to prevent climbers coming from Nepal and Tibet from intermingling. China is concerned by the recent increase of infections in Nepal and the possibility of those spilling across the world’s highest border.
In an attempt to revive the tourist season, Nepal has not canceled any routes, even as its population actively battles with the virus. Nepal has experienced a rise in COVID-19 cases since mid-April, coinciding with the height of its climbing season.
Xinhua News reported that a team of Tibetan climbers will ascend to the peak and set up the separation line on both sides of the summit. China says the line will be set up before the arrival of 21 Chinese nationals, who are en route to the summit from Tibet’s side.
China is yet to make it clear whether it would be a local Tibetan team enforcing the separation rules or whether Tibetan guides would remain on the sidelines. The Chinese government has established restrictions preventing international climbers from climbing to the top of Everest from the Tibetan side ever since the recent outbreak. Visitors to the Everest scenic area in Tibet are also prohibited from accessing the basecamp.
COVID-19 cases in mainland China have been steadily low. On Sunday, the nation reported 12 new cases, which are all said to have come from overseas, reported Reuters. Meanwhile Nepal has reported its highest number of cases for a single day — a total of 9,023.