Home > News

Climber at Everest base camp got Covid, team in quarantine

The symptoms of Covid are similar to those of high-altitude pulmonary edema, which has made diagnosis cases difficult

A climber at Everest base camp has been evacuated by helicopter to a Kathmandu hospital. First reported by Outside, the climber was originally thought to have high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). At the hospital, he was diagnosed with Covid-19.

It’s the first known case at Everest base camp, where dozens of climbers are preparing to climb to camp one. The climber’s team is now quarantining at base camp. Due to the lack of oxygen at high altitudes, the immune system doesn’t function as well as it does at lower elevations.

There’s currently no way to test climbers at base camp for Covid, but most were required to get a negative test before travelling to the world’s highest peak. Coughing, shortness of breath, lessened appetite are all symptoms of living at altitude, which could lead to more cases where Covid is wrongly diagnosed as HAPE.

There have already been seven evacuations from base camp due to HAPE, but it’s unclear if those were in fact Covid event. There have been 338 permits issued to climb Everest this season. The base camp is as busy as it was in 2019, when photos of traffic jams near the summit went viral.

Canadian photographer Elia Saikaly is currently on Everest filming an all-Sherpa team. He was on K2 this winter when three climbers went missing.