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China opens Everest’s north side to 38 virus-tested climbers

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BEIJING (AP) — China has opened Mount Everest’s northern slope to a few dozen mountaineers who will be tested for the coronavirus and must keep their distance while ascending the world’s highest peak.

Both Nepal and China closed the mountain to foreign climbers last year because of the pandemic. Nepal has allowed in foreign climbers this season despite a surging COVID-19 outbreak, and at least one climber, a Norwegian, confirmed last month he had contracted the virus.

Nepal mountaineering officials have denied any outbreak on the mountain, citing only altitude sickness and other ailments common in the cold, harsh, low-oxygen environment where climbers stay in close quarters. This week, the Himalayan nation halted all flights as part of a strict lockdown of its capital and major cities amid its recent surge.

In contrast, China, where COVID-19 first emerged, has now largely contained domestic transmission of the virus, but it has maintained restrictions such as health checks and is on guard against imported cases.

BEIJING (AP) — China has opened Mount Everest’s northern slope to a few dozen mountaineers who will be tested for the coronavirus and must keep their distance while ascending the world’s highest peak.

Both Nepal and China closed the mountain to foreign climbers last year because of the pandemic. Nepal has allowed in foreign climbers this season despite a surging COVID-19 outbreak, and at least one climber, a Norwegian, confirmed last month he had contracted the virus.

Nepal mountaineering officials have denied any outbreak on the mountain, citing only altitude sickness and other ailments common in the cold, harsh, low-oxygen environment where climbers stay in close quarters. This week, the Himalayan nation halted all flights as part of a strict lockdown of its capital and major cities amid its recent surge.

In contrast, China, where COVID-19 first emerged, has now largely contained domestic transmission of the virus, but it has maintained restrictions such as health checks and is on guard against imported cases.

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