Wearing hospital masks and gowns، and waving to family members through protective glass، the freed Thai soccer players were finally able to have a reunion، of sorts according to “CNN”.
After almost three weeks trapped in the dark، away from their loved ones in a cave in northern Thailand، the boys، aged between 11 and 16، were allowed to see their relatives in a carefully controlled environment، as doctors are still concerned about their health.
In video shown at a press briefing، some of the parents were in tears as they looked through the glass. The family members were not allowed to enter the room where they are being treated، in order to avoid infection، Dr Chaiyawej Thanapaisarn said.
The doctor said three of the boys were being treated for minor cases of pneumonia، but predicted most would be discharged after about a week.
"The recovery process should take around 30 days after they are discharged،" he added. Speaking to CNN after he left the hospital، Tanawat Viboonrungruang، the father of 11-year-old Titun، said he felt relieved to see his son was "still healthy."
Seeing his son through the glass، he said he only wanted to hug him. "I started to cry، everybody started to cry،" he said. "I want to say thanks to those who rescued my boy. And helped him to have a new life، it's like a rebirth. "
Speaking earlier Wednesday، health ministry inspector Tongchai Lertvirairatanapong said the boys were in "good condition،" despite each losing an average of two kilograms (4.4 pounds) in weight during their time in the cave.
He attributed their relative good health to their coach، 25-year-old Ekkapol Ake Chantawong، a former monk who was the last person out. "I have to praise the coach who took care of the footballers very well،" Lertvirairatanapong said.
He said the children hadn't eaten any food in the nine days before they were found، and drank murky water from inside the cave، which saved them. On Tuesday authorities said some of the boys had asked to eat bread with chocolate spread، but mostly they'll be given a food similar to milk which is rich in proteins and nutrients.
The first boys rescued on Sunday have been allowed to see their relatives through a glass partition and speak to them on a telephone line. They will soon be able to meet them in person، but only while wearing protective clothing to reduce the risk of infection.
The second group of boys rescued has been given approval to see their parents through glass، but the third group are still undergoing tests، he said. The boys are expected to be kept in hospital for at least a week while their immune systems recover.
The extraordinary operation to save the boys came to an end on Tuesday، when the Thai Navy SEAL rescuers and a doctor followed the last four boys and their coach out of the cave complex. On Wednesday، they too were recovering، nursing battered hands and feet from wading through the cold water in the cave to reach the boys.
"Some have had muscle infections، cold، flu، and some psychologists have been taking care of them to relieve stress،" Health Ministry Inspector Lertvirairatanapong said. Even for some of the world's most experienced cave divers، it set a new standard for difficult rescues.
"The complexity، scale and risk of the operation was unprecedented،" Glen McEwen، Australian Federal Police manager for Asia said at a press conference Wednesday.