BEIJING (AFP) - China has banned attempts to scale Everest from its side of the world's highest peak, as Beijing takes its unflinching Covid-19 controls to the Roof of the World.
The block on climbing was announced over concerns of the risk of Covid-19 infection by climbers starting out in Nepal, where the pandemic is raging.
China was the first country hit by the pandemic in late 2019, but has since largely contained the disease with strict border controls. Beijing fears a rebound of infections could emerge from abroad.
With borders all but closed since March 2020, China is now worried about risks at the snow-capped summit, which it shares with Nepal at 8,848 meters above sea level, as the spring climbing season roars to life.
Nepal, India's neighbour, has been hit hard by a second wave of the epidemic, just as the Himalayan state was planning to revive its tourism this summer after a wiped-out 2020 season. In recent weeks the coronavirus has been recorded at base camp on the Nepalese side of the climb.
Given the health situation, "all climbing activities are cancelled", state media said Friday, referring to the Tibetan name of the peak. The agency said the decision was made by the China Sports Administration. It was not clear how long the edict would be in place for.
Earlier last week, China said it would set up a "separation line" at the summit of Everest to protect against coronavirus from mingling with Nepal-side climbers.
But Beijing did not specify how it intended to mark its territory on the narrow summit of the world's highest mountain, where only a few climbers can fit at a time.