The Nepalese authorities say there has not been a single case of COVID-19 on Everest. However, the New York Times reports that at least 59 infected people, including sherpas and climbers, had been on the mountain by the end of the climbing season earlier in June. “Tourism officials dismissed the accounts of climbers, calling one a pneumonia patient,” the Times reported. Coughing, they added, was “nothing new in the dry mountain air.”
The Times says the figure of 59 could be “far higher,” as “expedition organizers, doctors and climbers themselves said they were pressured to hide infections.” In 2020, the mountain had been shut down because of the pandemic.
Last month, the BBC reported that the Nepalese government had denied any knowledge of COVID-19 on Everest, “raising concerns that officials are downplaying the extent of the situation out of fear it will bring more pressure to close the mountain to expeditions.” At the time, the BBC reported, hospitals in Kathamandu were handling 17 confirmed cases of the disease. In Nepal, the Times said, less than 3 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated against coronavirus.