“We can’t just extend climbing permits on basis of Covid rumors,” Mr. Tamang said.

“Whether their expeditions were canceled because of Covid-19 or not, that should be examined,” he said.

With very few Sherpas having been vaccinated when they arrived at base camp, dozens contracted Covid-19. Some were airlifted out. Others isolated in their pup tents and climbed to higher camps after recovering.

Phunuru Sherpa of International Mountain Guides said 10 Sherpa guides on his team fell sick with Covid-19.

Of the more than 400 foreign climbers attempting to scale Everest, almost half abandoned their expeditions, either because of Covid-19 infections or because of a cyclone that caused snowstorms in the Himalayas.

Scott Simper, a climber from Utah who lives in New Zealand, reached Everest’s peak on May 11, according to his wife, Anna Keeling, a mountain guide.

“He didn’t know he had Covid on the mountain,” she said. Mr. Simper learned of his infection only after testing positive days later in Kathmandu, where his expedition company quarantined him at a hotel for 12 days. His wife said he was still recovering from the disease.

Mr. Ness, the Norwegian climber who described his bout with Covid-19 on social media, was airlifted from base camp to a hospital in Kathmandu. Doctors advised him not to return to the mountain, so he flew home to Norway. The Everest expedition had taken three years to plan and cost him $40,000, plus hospital fees in Nepal. He does not expect to get any money back.

Mario Celinic of Croatia said he tested positive at Everest base camp. He had trained for Everest for four years, climbing some of the world’s other highest peaks. Suffering no symptoms, he decided to proceed to the top.

“‘You have Covid and you must be careful,’ this came into my mind, because Covid affects the lungs and that would be difficult to breathe above 8,000 meters’ altitude,” he said.

“That mountain is like a beautiful flower that will kill you anytime. It attracts you. You must come, you are admired. And when you go up to 8,000 meters, you are completely helpless. Whatever the mountain decides, that will be your fate,” Mr. Celinic said.

Bhadra Sharma reported from Kathmandu, and Emily Schmall from New Delhi.

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Several Everest Climbers Test Positive for Covid

KATHMANDU, Nepal — A prominent mountaineering company abandoned its expedition to Mount Everest, dismantling its tents at base camp on Saturday after members of its team tested positive for the coronavirus.

An American climber and three Sherpa guides from a 51-person expedition were evacuated from base camp and hospitalized in Kathmandu, according to Ang Tendi Sherpa, managing director of the local agency that obtained the permit for the expedition.

“Rest of the climbers felt insecure,” Mr. Sherpa said. “That’s why the expedition was canceled.”

A second wave of the coronavirus is ravaging Nepal, overwhelming its feeble health care system. On Saturday, the authorities reported 8,167 new cases and 187 deaths.

On the peaks, the spread of the virus is unclear, but signs of trouble are growing.

Starting this month, hundreds of foreign climbers, Sherpas and other support staff have lived at Everest’s high-altitude base camp, preparing for an ascent to the world’s tallest peak. More and more of them are presenting with Covid symptoms, and testing positive with rapid antigen tests undertaken by three doctors Nepal’s government posted to base camp, according to Lukas Furtenbach, the managing director of Furtenbach Adventures, which organized the canceled expedition.

virus safeguards imposed before the climbing season have worked.

died in the thin air close to Everest’s peak. Officials immediately ruled out Covid. Because of the remote location of the bodies, no autopsies were planned.

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Taiwan Reports a Daily Record of 180 Cases

Taiwan, which has had remarkable success in containing the coronavirus, raised restrictions for its main city to their highest level since the start of the pandemic on Saturday, after reporting a daily record of 180 new locally transmitted infections.

Taiwan’s current outbreak — its worst yet by far — began in late April with a cluster in airline workers. Saturday’s caseload represented more than half of the 344 locally transmitted cases that the self-governing island has recorded during the entire pandemic.

The Taiwanese premier, Su Tseng-chang, and other officials told reporters on Saturday that masks and other medical supplies to fight the outbreak were plentiful. Mr. Su urged Taiwanese to be “obedient, helpful and protect yourselves, your families, all of society and our country.”

The government raised the restrictions in the city of Taipei to Level 3 out of 4, still short of a full lockdown. Even so, the announcements sent a shiver of anxiety through Taipei, and some residents filed into supermarkets to stock up on food, toilet paper and other essentials.

control a fourth wave of coronavirus infections and has cast further doubt on Japan’s ability to safely host the Tokyo Summer Olympics in July. Only about three percent of Japan’s 126 million people have received a first shot of a coronavirus vaccine. Taro Kono, the cabinet minister in charge of vaccinations, this week blamed the slow pace in part on the country’s strict drug approval system.

  • China’s sports administration is putting an end to attempts to climb Mount Everest from its north face this spring, citing concern about the coronavirus, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday. The agency said there was a need to “ensure absolutely no missteps,” apparently reflecting worries that climbers in Nepal, where infections are surging, could bring the virus to the top of the world’s highest mountain from the other side. The announcement came a few days after the authorities in Tibet, a region of China, said they would enforce a “zero contact strategy” to ensure there were no transmissions from climbers on the Nepal side of the mountain, which is called Chomolungma in Tibetan. Xinhua said 21 Chinese climbers had previously been given permission to try for the peak this season.

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2 Climbers Die on Everest as Covid Rampages Through Nepal

KATHMANDU, Nepal — Two climbers, a Swiss-Pakistani and an American, have died on Mount Everest, the first fatalities of a busy climbing season as a second wave of the coronavirus batters Nepal.

The expedition company that organized their climbs, Seven Summit Treks, said both men were experienced mountaineers who lost consciousness around Mount Everest’s “death zone,” an area above 8,000 meters (about 26,000 feet) named for its thin air and brutal weather.

When the climbers died on Wednesday, the wind had picked up on Everest. Climbing tourists and most of the Nepalese guides who aid them turned away from the summit on Thursday as weather conditions grew more severe.

Puwei Liu, 55, an experienced climber from California, died at the first camp below the peak after making an unsuccessful summit attempt on Wednesday, according to Chhang Dawa Sherpa, a Seven Summit Treks director.

hourslong traffic jams that can occur on the overcrowded path to the peak.

Nepal’s tourism department and the agency that organized their expedition ruled out any possible link to the coronavirus that is ravaging the small Himalayan country. Instead, they blamed high-altitude sickness. However, as with many of the hundreds who have died attempting Everest, no autopsies were planned, because of the bodies’ remote locations.

“No Covid. They died of altitude sickness. Had they Covid, they wouldn’t be able to reach at that height,” said Mingma Sherpa, Seven Summit Treks’ chairman.

virus safeguards imposed before the climbing season have worked.

Off the peaks, Nepal’s health care system is under incredible strain because of a rash of new cases, mirroring the ferocity of the second wave in neighboring India.

With hospitals running out of beds, vaccine in short supply and infections rising faster than clinics can record them, Nepal’s health ministry deemed the situation “unmanageable” last week.

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Nepal to Use Oxygen Tanks From Everest to Treat Covid Patients

As hospitals in Nepal strain to cope with one of the world’s fastest-growing coronavirus outbreaks, relief groups in the Himalayan nation are asking mountain climbers to hand over their used oxygen cylinders so that they can be refilled for Covid-19 patients.

The unusual appeal reflects the strange duality in Nepal: While hundreds of foreign climbers are attempting costly expeditions to the summits of Mount Everest and other peaks, the impoverished nation down below is facing urgent shortages of hospital beds, medical oxygen, coronavirus test kits and other supplies.

Expedition operators are preparing to airlift thousands of cylinders from the Himalayas as expeditions are completed this month, the culmination of the climbing season. Kul Bahadur Gurung, general secretary of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, estimated that tour companies would be able to provide at least 4,000 cylinders by the first week of June.

“We are asking them not to leave even a single oxygen cylinder in the mountains,” Mr. Gurung said.

Climbers attempting to reach the top of Everest, the world’s tallest peak, and other mountains carry oxygen to help them breathe in the thin air. Although Nepal prohibits leaving equipment behind in the mountains, canisters are sometimes left buried in the snow by exhausted climbers or stashed by expedition companies for later use.

catastrophic surge in India, with which it shares a long, porous border. On May 1, Nepal reported 26 deaths from the virus. On Tuesday, the official death toll was 225.

Doctors say that a shortage of medical oxygen is a factor in many of the deaths. Many hospitals have stopped admitting new Covid-19 patients, citing a lack of oxygen. Wealthy families are airlifting their loved ones by chartered helicopter to cities where they can find intensive-care beds. Other patients are being treated in makeshift emergency facilities set up in parking lots and other open spaces.

With almost half of Nepal’s coronavirus tests coming back positive, health experts warn that the worst is yet to come.

China has pledged to provide Nepal with 20,000 oxygen cylinders and 100 ventilators, the first batch of which arrived on Tuesday.

Expedition companies are stepping in with smaller donations. Mr. Gurung’s group said that he was sending five dozen cylinders, along with a few more from a local mountaineering museum, to hospitals treating coronavirus patients.

Mingma Sherpa, chairman of Seven Summit Treks, Nepal’s largest expeditions operator, said that he planned to ship as many as 500 cylinders used in expeditions to Everest and other peaks soon after climbers descended to base camps.

“My only condition is that those cylinders should be used for poor and helpless people rather than V.I.P.s,” he said, adding: “It’s our responsibility to help the government during these trying times. We will do it happily.”

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China is to partition Mount Everest’s summit to reduce coronavirus risk.

China said on Sunday that it had taken steps to prevent coronavirus cases from entering the country — over the top of the world’s tallest mountain.

Nyima Tsering, head of the Tibet Sports Bureau, told the state-run Xinhua News Agency that control measures would be put in place on Mount Everest, including the installation of a dividing line on the summit to prevent climbers from the Chinese side and the Nepal side from coming into contact.

Last week, a team of Sherpa guides affixed a rope to the summit of Mount Everest from the Nepal side, allowing expeditions to resume for the first time since the pandemic forced a cancellation of attempts last year.

Nepal has this year approved a record 408 permits to climb Everest, even as coronavirus cases have surged in the country and several climbers have been flown from base camp with symptoms of Covid-19.

29,031.7 feet above sea level, most climbers already wear masks to supply oxygen and protect themselves from the cold. But China will implement additional steps to reduce the risk of transmission.

In addition to restrictions on the summit, a checkpoint has been installed outside the Chinese base camp. People returning from the Chinese side will have to undergo disinfection, temperature checks and potentially isolation, Xinhua reported.

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Several Mount Everest Climbers Test Positive for Coronavirus

Nepal’s coronavirus outbreak, which is growing faster than almost anywhere else in the world, has spread to the remote Himalayas, with an increasing number of climbers testing positive after being evacuated from the base camps of Mount Everest and surrounding peaks.

In recent weeks, several climbers have been flown out of Mount Everest Base Camp after reporting symptoms of Covid-19, then tested positive after reaching Kathmandu, the capital. On Wednesday, Nepali news outlets reported that 14 climbers, including foreigners and Sherpa guides, were being airlifted from Mount Dhaulagiri, another major peak, to Kathmandu for treatment after some were found to be infected.

The cases have raised fears for the safety of climbers and their Nepali guides who are pushing ahead with expeditions in the forbidding, high-altitude terrain, where doctors say they are already vulnerable to illness, lower blood oxygen levels and weaker immunity. Hundreds of climbers and Sherpas are isolating in their tents in gusty conditions at Everest base camp, trying to guard against infection while preparing to begin their ascent to the 29,000-foot summit.

Nepal’s government — determined to revive its lucrative mountaineering industry after a total shutdown last year — continues to deny that there is any outbreak at Everest base camp and has released no information about the number of climbers who have been evacuated. The government has granted 408 permits to scale the world’s tallest peak, the most in any year since the first recorded summit in 1953, earning millions of dollars in royalties.

Infections are exploding in Nepal, from fewer than 100 per day in early March to more than 7,500 on Tuesday, the most the country has recorded since the pandemic began. The surge has come at the same time as the devastating outbreak in neighboring India, and foreign climbers could have been infected while passing through Kathmandu in March and April en route to the mountains.

Erlend Ness, a Norwegian climber, said he fell ill at Everest base camp last month and was evacuated by helicopter and ambulance to a hospital in Kathmandu.

“I tested positive at the hospital on the same day I arrived in Kathmandu from the mountains,” Mr. Ness said by telephone from Oslo, where doctors told him he couldn’t return to Nepal this year.

Another climber, Steve Davis, chronicled his airlift from base camp last month and subsequent positive test on his blog. Mr. Davis remains in Nepal, where the government has banned domestic and international flights as part of its latest lockdown.

wrote on Facebook that more than 30 people who had difficulty breathing had been airlifted by helicopter to Kathmandu — and “later found to be positive for coronavirus.”

The Nepalese Health Ministry warned last week that “hospitals have run out of beds,” but the authorities have said they would not cancel expeditions.

Rudra Singh Tamang, the tourism department’s director general, said that elite Sherpas this week would finish installing a rope to help climbers reach the Everest summit.

“Expeditions won’t be canceled,” said Mr. Tamang, who has tested positive for the virus and is self-isolating. “Everest is an isolated area, so there’s no risk of coronavirus.”

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Hong Kong eases some restrictions to encourage vaccinations, and other news from around the world.

Hong Kong eased restrictions on Thursday at restaurants and bars where staff and customers have begun receiving coronavirus vaccinations, part of an effort to help businesses hurt by the pandemic while attempting to boost an anemic inoculation drive.

Under a complex set of new rules, establishments that were ordered closed for much of the past year — including bars, nightclubs and karaoke parlors — will be allowed to reopen until 2 a.m. if staff and customers have had their first shot.

Restaurants where all employees have had at least one shot can stay open for dining until midnight with up to six diners at a table. Those where staff have had both shots and customers have had at least one can stay open until 2 a.m., with up to eight people per table.

Any establishment that wants to take advantage of the measures must use the government’s contact tracing app. Under previous regulations, residents could forgo the app and fill out their details on paper, an option that has been popular among people worried about what data the app collects and how it might be used.

its vaccination effort has languished. As of Thursday, slightly more than 13 percent of people in the Chinese territory had received a dose of the Sinovac or Pfizer vaccine, with 7 percent having received both doses.

Hong Kong is also requiring residents who want to go to Singapore under a new quarantine-free travel bubble to be fully vaccinated. Officials have said that such a requirement is likely to be enforced under any subsequent travel bubbles with other destinations.

In other news around the world:

  • Nepal imposed a two-week lockdown in the capital, Kathmandu, and several other cities amid a rise in coronavirus cases nationwide, including among climbers at Mount Everest Base Camp. The authorities barred nearly all vehicles from the roads and ordered people to stay indoors except for emergencies. Hospitals are filling up in the small Himalayan nation as large numbers of migrant workers return home from India, site of what is currently the world’s worst outbreak, without being tested for the virus. Nepal reported nearly 5,000 new daily cases on Wednesday, the most since last October, after recording fewer than 100 for most of March.

  • At first, the vaccine itself was the prize for older people in Russia. But as vaccination rates have slowed in Moscow, the city government this week began a program to encourage turnout with gift certificates. Residents of the capital older than 60 will now receive a certificate for 1,000 rubles, or about $13, redeemable at stores or restaurants. The Russian government has blamed widespread vaccine hesitancy for a slow start to its vaccination campaign. A shortage of vaccine has also slowed the rollout, as Russia is exporting doses despite a still low vaccination rate at home. About 5 percent of Russians are now fully vaccinated compared with 29 percent in the United States.

  • Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech are expected to apply for European Union approval of their vaccine for 12-to-15-year-olds. They made a similar application to the F.D.A. in the United States earlier this month. Ugur Sahin, the head of BioNTech, expects some children in Europe to be vaccinated as early as June, according to a report by Der Spiegel. According to the Spiegel report, BioNTech aims for E.U.-wide approval for children younger than 12 by September. As of Thursday, 25 percent of Germans had received at least one dose of a vaccine.

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Pandemic Lockdowns Cut Pollution, Slowing Snowmelt in South Asia

Cleaner skies over South Asia that resulted from pandemic lockdowns last year likely affected the timing of snowmelt in the Indus River basin of Pakistan and India, researchers reported on Monday.

The lockdowns cut emissions of soot and other pollutants, as people drove less and the generation of electricity, largely from coal, was reduced. That meant less soot was deposited on snow, where it absorbs sunlight, emits heat and causes faster melting.

The cleaner snow in 2020 reflected more sunlight and did not melt as fast, the researchers said. In all, that delayed runoff into the Indus River of more than than one and a half cubic miles of melt water, they calculated, similar to the volume of some of the largest reservoirs in the United States.

Several studies showed rapid improvements in air quality in that period, particularly in and around Delhi, which is notorious for having some of the most unhealthy air in the world.

A paper describing the findings was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Mark Flanner, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Michigan who was not involved in the study, said the results made sense. “We know that the air was extremely clean this year,” he said. “The shoe fits the foot.”

Dr. Bair said the work showed how changes in behavior, for whatever reason, can affect water supplies. Worldwide, about two billion people rely on snow and ice melt for their water. More broadly, Dr. Flanner said, the study is “further evidence that cleaning up the environment can have a wide variety of positive benefits that we might not immediately be aware of.”

The study adds to a growing body of work on what might be called the side effects of the pandemic. Among other findings, researchers have documented an overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a shift in timing of energy use in locked-down households, and even an increase in eye injuries among children because of the widespread use of hand sanitizer.

Air quality readings “are back to being terrible” in Delhi, Dr. Bair said. With the recent severe surge in Covid cases in India, Delhi and some other cities are back in lockdown, at least for a few weeks. But when the new stay-home orders are eventually lifted, any effect of the pandemic on Indus melt water will most likely only be temporary.

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Climbers Return to Mount Everest With Covid-19 Precautions

After Nepal was forced to close its mountain trails last year, dealing its economy a devastating blow, the tiny Himalayan country has reopened Mount Everest and its seven other 26,200-foot-plus peaks in the hope of a rebound.

For this year’s climbing season, from March to May, Nepal has granted more than 300 climbers the licenses needed to ascend the world’s tallest peak. Many of those climbers hope to reach the summit, 5.5 miles above sea level.

But as the coronavirus resurges in South Asia, the pandemic has made the already deadly climb even more hazardous. Local officials have instituted testing, mask and social-distancing requirements, stationed medical personnel at the Mount Everest Base Camp, and made plans to swoop in and pick up infected climbers. Climbers are typically greeted in Kathmandu with raucous parties thrown by expedition staffers. But not this year.

“No party. No handshake. No hug. Just ‘Namaste,’” said Lakpa Sherpa, whose agency is taking 19 climbers to Everest this spring, referring to the South Asian greeting.

coronavirus vaccination efforts are faltering, is taking a calculated risk. In 2019, tourism brought in $2 billion in revenue and employed about a million people. For tens of thousands of Nepalis, the three-month climbing season is the only opportunity for paid work.

The damage from last year’s closure was immense. At least 1.5 million people in the country of 30 million lost jobs or substantial income during the pandemic, according to Nepal’s National Planning Commission.

Porters who usually cart supplies and gear up the peaks for well-paying foreign climbers were forced to subsist on government handouts of rice and lentils. Expert expedition guides, many of whom are members of Nepal’s Sherpa tribe, returned to their villages in the remote mountains and grew potatoes to survive.

“We have no other options,” said Rudra Singh Tamang, the head of Nepal’s tourism department. “We need to save the mountaineering economy.”

Still, tourism ministry officials and expedition agencies acknowledge that Nepal has no clear plan to test or isolate climbers if one tests positive for the virus.

At the airport in Kathmandu, the capital, incoming travelers must show negative RT-PCR test results or provide vaccination certificates. Climbers initially had to get additional insurance, adding to the average $50,000 price tag to climb Everest, although the government has loosened that requirement.

Despite the challenges, the climbing season has drawn some high-profile mountaineers, including a Bahraini prince with a large entourage, a Qatari who wants to be the first woman from her nation to make the climb, and a former National Football League wide receiver who is aiming to become the oldest N.F.L. player to summit the world’s seven tallest peaks.

“I wanted to be there,” said the former player, Mark Pattison, 59, “in Nepal, this spring, at any cost.”

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