Nepal on Friday closed all of its Himalayan peaks including Mount Everest because of fears of the coronavirus outbreak, AFP reported. The move came a day after China cancelled expeditions from the northern, Chinese-controlled, side of the Mount Everest.
Nepal’s Minister for Culture Tourism and Civil Aviation Yogesh Bhattarai said climbing expeditions on all mountains of the country have been stopped.
“The government has decided to suspend all spring expeditions and scrap permits for the time being,” Bhattarai said. “The decision can be reviewed after analysing the global scenario over the coming month.”
Nepal will not issue tourist visas till April 30 over coronavirus fears, said Narayan Prasad Bidari, the secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office said, according to BBC.
The country earns $4 million (approximately Rs 29.62 crore) by issuing climbing permits for Mount Everest and other mountains every year, aside from wider tourism revenue, BBC reported quoting local media.
Nepal only has one confirmed case of coronavirus so far.
Coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has spread to 100 countries, infecting 1.27 lakh people and killing 4,717. The World Health Organization on Wednesday declared the outbreak a pandemic.
China had on Thursday declared that the peak of the coronavirus outbreak had passed in the country after new cases in Hubei fell to single digits for the first time. But in recent weeks the vast majority of new cases have been reported from outside China.
Italy, the worst-hit European country, has reported more than 1,000 deaths from the virus. The entire nation has been put under lockdown. In Iran, the epicentre of coronavirus in West Asia, more than 400 people have died.
United States has reported 1,663 cases of the novel coronavirus. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife has also tested positive for coronavirus. The country has more than 100 confirmed cases.
India reported its first coronavirus death late on Thursday after samples of a 76-year-old man, who was a suspected COVID-19 patient and died on March 10, tested positive for the disease. There are 75 confirmed cases of coronavirus in India.