Beijing [China], May 16 (ANI): China has cancelled its spring climbing season on the Tibetan side of Mount Everest, citing concerns over a surge of COVID-19 infections in its neighbouring country Nepal.
China's General Administration of Sport on Friday said that all permits issued to Chinese climbers had been cancelled to ensure that there was no chance of imported COVID-19 cases amid the surging infections in Nepal, South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported citing Xinhua news agency.
A group of 21 climbers was already en route to the summit from the northern side and 38 had the approval to scale the peak this year.
However, the decision has been criticised for being unnecessary as contact is almost impossible at the area, which is known as the death zone for its freezing temperatures and lack of oxygen.
According to veteran mountaineers, masked-up climbers from the north and the south interacted very little and could normally stay no more than 20 minutes at the peak.
Last week, Chinese authorities had announced the establishment of "a line of separation" on the summit to prevent transmission between climbers after a cluster of COVID-19 cases was reported at a base camp in Nepal, SCMP reported.
Moreover, over 17 climbers have been diagnosed with the coronavirus that has raised fears of a viral outbreak at the climbing site, according to base camp officials.
"Because the northern and southern routes of ascent are different, there's no infection risk there. The most important focus for preventing transmissions will be at the summit," SCMP quoted Nimaciren, head of the Tibetan autonomous region's sports bureau.
China's decision comes as Nepal is witnessing a devastating second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, recording more than 8,000 cases for the past few days.
With the rise in infection and beds falling short to admit infected ones, many of the local bodies around the nation had imposed restrictions aiming to flatten the curve. (ANI)