China will draw a “line of separation” at the top of Everest to prevent coronavirus infections from mountaineers ascending the Nepalese side of the mountain, Chinese state media announced on Monday.
A team of Tibetan mountain guides will set the line at the top before the mountaineers attempt to summit from the Chinese side, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.
It was not clear how the line would be made. Mountaineers who climb the north side of the mountain from China will be prohibited from crossing the line or coming into contact with people or objects on the south side, the Nepalese.
The Nepalese government and the country’s mountain authorities did not comment on the project at first.
The two countries suspended their climbing season for the world’s highest mountain last year due to the pandemic. Nepal has authorized 408 foreign nationals to attempt the upgrade this year, in an attempt to increase tourism revenue.
Xinhua said 21 Chinese mountaineers had been authorized to climb the mountain from the north side.
Although China has mostly curbed local infections of the virus, Nepal is on the rise, with record numbers of infections and deaths in recent days. Most large cities and towns are under quarantine, and all domestic and international flights have been canceled.
Authorities in Nepal have declined to speak about any outbreak on Everest. A Norwegian mountaineer told The Associated Press last month that he had had COVID-19 and that he left the country when his condition improved.
Ang Thsering Sherpa, a mountaineering expert with decades of experience, said that it is simply not possible to draw any kind of separation at the summit.
The only point where mountaineers from both sides would get closer is the summit, which is a small space where people just spend a few minutes to take a photo and look at the views.
The mountaineers arrive at the top in thick layers of clothing and equipment, and cover their faces with oxygen masks, goggles and protections against the freezing air.
“The idea that anyone with coronavirus can even make it to the summit is impossible, because mountaineers with any respiratory distress just couldn’t get to that altitude,” Sherpa said.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.