Kathmandu: Just weeks into the mountaineering season, symptoms of coronavirus have been found at Mount Everest’s base camp, sparking debate about whether Nepal’s reliance on the mountain as a source of revenue is getting in the way of safety.Also Read - How World's Highest Weather Station Was Installed On Mount Everest

One Norwegian climber who was hoping to summit Everest confirmed on Thursday that he has tested positive for Covid-19. “My diagnosis is Covid-19,” Erlend Ness told news agency AFP in a Facebook message. Later, Ness was evacuated from the mountain by helicopter and taken to a hospital in the Nepali capital Kathmandu after spending time at Everest base camp. Also Read - India Reports First Case Of Omicron Subvariant BA.4 in Hyderabad

On the other side, one hospital in Kathmandu has confirmed it had taken in patients from Everest who had contracted coronavirus but could not give a number. Also Read - Covid or no COVID, Work From Home Policy Stays on Table For Several Companies | Full List

Though the exact number of cases is unknown, and Nepal’s tourism ministry is yet to respond to a request for comment.

At this time of crisis, many common coronavirus symptoms also bear a similar resemblance to the symptoms of altitude sickness and the “Khumbu cough” that often plagues climbers at high altitudes.

As per the latest updates, Nepal’s tourism department had issued 377 climbing permits to foreign climbers attempting to scale Everest this year – close to the same number issued in 2019, when 11 people died on the peak and numerous fatalities were blamed on the long wait to descend from the summit to base camp.

Notably, in recent seasons, Mount Everest has seen a surge in the numbers of climbers making attempts to summit the slope, leading to overcrowding that has been blamed for multiple deaths.