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Health Alert for Entering Tibet Issued
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"Enjoy the bewitching scenery in Tibet but beware of your health and safety," is the advice from the Chinese Consumers' Association.

The warning issued on Wednesday follows reports that two couples from Ningbo in east China's Zhejiang Province were involved in a serious car accident in which three people were injured and one was killed.

This comes after an incident on July 10 involving a tour group of 40 people. Twelve of them fell into a coma through a lack of oxygen from the high altitude after their vehicle broke down.

"Traveling by car poses a great challenge to the physical limits and driving skills of tourists as the poor road conditions in Tibet combines with the problem of the thin air," said the alert.

Those who persist in traveling by car should take maps, plenty of drinking of water, battery-powered flashlights and oxygen bags. Going solo and venturing into wild land are not encouraged, read the warning.

To avoid altitude sickness symptoms such as faintness, palpitation and high blood pressure, travelers must exercise before they depart. Those who suffer from a cold, fever, heart disease or high blood pressure should stay away from the highlands where the average altitude is 4000 meters.

"When you arrive, take a rest. Don't get carried away with your first trip and do anything too drastic," said the alert, adding that soothing drugs such as Radix Rhodiolae known as "Hongjingtian" in Chinese, and Composite Danshen or "Fufang Danshen Diwan" in Chinese, would help alleviate the symptoms.

If the drugs do not work, go to see a doctor immediately as delayed treatment may cause a pulmonary edema and hydrocephalus. Hats, glasses and sun cream are useful to protect your skin and eyes from the sun, it said.

China saw a surge in the number of tourists visiting Tibet after the Qinghai-Tibet Railway went into operation on July 1. Local tourism authorities said that Tibet has received a record 391,000 stay-over tourists in July, up 50 percent from the previous year, with the daily average topping 5,000.

(Xinhua News Agency August 18, 2006)

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