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Ain’t no mountain high enough.
Not even the world’s tallest mountain is safe: Mount Everest recorded its first-ever coronavirus case after a member of a Base Camp expedition tested positive for COVID-19 last week.
The infected patient was initially believed to be suffering from high-altitude pulmonary edema and was airlifted to a hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal, Outside reported. However, upon arrival, the alpinist tested positive for COVID-19, forcing the rest of the team to quarantine themselves at Base Camp.
The case comes just weeks after Everest — which is the world’s tallest mountain at 29,032 feet — reopened to climbers after being closed due to the pandemic.
One infection may not seem like much, but on Everest would be an “earthquake-like situation,” according to Dr. Sangeeta Poudel, a volunteer at the Himalayan Rescue Association.
Outside’s Everest correspondent Alan Arnette explained: “When you’re sitting at Everest Base Camp at 17,600 feet, your immune system gets compromised because of the lack of oxygen.”
As a result, even the most minor cuts don’t heal until climbers descend to an oxygen-rich environment.
In addition, coronavirus could easily be confused for altitude sickness as the two ailments share many symptoms, including cough, appetite loss and trouble breathing, Outside reported.
“I think the risks are really high, and people are taking a gamble if they climb,” lamented Arnette.
Despite the danger, more than 300 climbers are expected to try scaling Everest this year, compared to the 381 who attempted the climb in 2019.
Currently, cases of coronavirus have been recorded on all continents, including Antarctica.
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