As Kraig Becker, contributor to Outside suggests, “Getting a PCR test in the Khumbu is likely to prove very challenging. Becker goes on to suggest that even then, it doesn’t guarantee safety, as travellers could be tested in the window between exposure and contracting the virus, which has shown to have negative test results only to see people fall ill with the virus several days later.
The region relies heavily on tourism derived from trekkers looking to climb Everest, and many believe such requirements for vaccination will only benefit the local community and protect their safety. A number of guiding companies and outfitters have developed their own safety protocols, requiring staff and clientele to be fully vaccinated. So far, Nepal has seen a total of 771,000 Covid cases and just 17 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated. Still, the announcement serves as an indication as to what many can expect of travel in the future.
Here in Australia, the federal government has announced plans to trial vaccine passports for international travel. But as a new study published by the Medical Journal of Australia suggests, mandatory vaccines could be problematic and promote segregation, unless backed by strong justification before the roll out. The key takeaway is that access to the vaccines needs to be a priority for all Australians, otherwise there are fears they could simply entrench existing disadvantage. In the States, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he would support mandating the Covid-19 vaccine for air travel, but the US Travel Association has since maintained that there should be no mandatory vaccination requirement for domestic travel as it believes it could have unfair and negative impacts on families with young children who are not yet eligible to get the vaccine.
Just how things unfold here in Australia remains to be seen, but it seems the priority going forward is safety for all, particularly disadvantaged communities that are more at risk. For anyone looking to climb Everest in the future, a vaccine should be a priority - not just for your own safety, but for those in the Khumbu region.