Everest: China to set up 'separation line' at summit

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image captionEverest stands on the border between China and Nepal

China says it will set up a "line of separation" at the summit of Mount Everest in order to prevent climbers mingling with others from Nepal.

It comes less than a week after mountaineers and authorities at base camp in Nepal warned of rising cases of Covid among climbers.

Everest stands on the border between China and Nepal and mountaineers climb it from both sides.

It is not yet clear how China will enforce the rules on the mountain.

The summit is a dome of snow with space for six people standing and on busy days, climbers have to queue to gain access to it.

A team of Tibetan mountaineering guides is being dispatched to the summit to set up the line. It will be in place before the arrival of a group of Chinese climbers who are currently on their way.

Mountaineers from the Chinese side will be prohibited from having contact with anyone from the Nepal side and will not be allowed to touch objects that have been placed at the peak.

It is not clear whether the Tibetan guides will remain in the area to enforce the restrictions.

The director of Tibet's Sports Bureau told Chinese state media that the only time that climbers from the north and south side of the mountain come in to contact is at the summit.

At present, tourists without a permit are forbidden to enter the Chinese base camp and the country has banned foreign nationals from climbing the mountain.

However Nepal, which relies heavily on income generated from Everest expeditions, has allowed foreign climbers, with about 400 permits allocated this season.

More than 30 sick climbers were evacuated from the Nepalese side in recent weeks as the country faces a second coronavirus wave.

Last week, the Himalayan Rescue Association, which runs a government-authorised medical clinic at base camp, told the BBC it had received confirmation of positive cases in some climbers flown out to Kathmandu by expedition teams.

In the last three weeks, Nepal's daily case rate has sky-rocketed with two out of five people tested returning positive results, AFP news agency reports.

The country has now recorded more than 394,667 cases and 3,720 deaths.

media captionThree people who have scaled Mount Everest explain what it is like to stand on top of the world

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