The 12 boys rescued from a flooded cave in Thailand have less than a week before being released into the homes they have not seen in nearly a month.
Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital officials said at a press conference on Saturday that the boys are expected to be released on Thursday. The timeline would indicate that the first four boys spent 11 days in the hospital, while the second and third rescued group spent 10 days and 9 days, respectively.
The country's Minister of Health, Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, said that all boys are healthy, gain weight and have a high appetite.
"The laboratory results of all 13 people are negative for dangerous infectious diseases and are dismissed from the hospital as soon as possible," it said in a statement.
Family members no longer need to wear masks while staying with the boys and can now stay at their beds instead of looking at them remotely through glass – a protection against contagion initiated in the first few days after their rescue.
Doctors also said that they were preparing to do another psychological examination of the boy after some had spent up to 18 days in the cave. Everyone seems to be emotionally and mentally healthy, but the doctors said that they care the most about the children being able to grow up without repercussions from their ordeal.
They want them to spend a month of relaxation and recovery with family and friends at home – not wanting the boys or family members to interview the media out of fear that they might feel guilty or ashamed.
The fear applies to the assistant coach of the team who led the team into the cave and was criticized by outsiders. The boys and their family members generally praised the coach for keeping the boys' spirits up and giving them food.
Doctors said on Saturday that the coach, the 25-year-old Ekkapol "Ake" Chantawong, has been gaining weight fast and is physically healthy, but he is the one whom they are most worried about protecting from any mental anxiety.
Two boys who are part of the team but did not enter the cave told ABC News before the rescue operation that "Ake" had brought them into the cave many times in the past, as a kind of rite of passage and teambuilding.
"You can not blame the coach, and you can not blame the children," said Thongchai Lertwilairatanapong, public health inspector, in Thai at a press conference on Wednesday. "They have to help each other out, we have to admire the coach he mastered well in this situation."
Each of the boys also sent short video messages from the hospital, which were played on Saturday at the press conference. The news was similar, with each of the boys saying they were well and thanking the rescuers.
One of the boys, 14-year-old Adul Samon, even sent his message in English and said, "Hello, I'm Adul, now I'm fine, thank you very much for helping me, thank you." He took the opportunity to say that he is looking forward to eating KFC as soon as he leaves the hospital.
The coach thanked "every ministry that helped me" and the Prime Minister, the Thai seafarers and the doctors.
The 12 boys and their coaches entered the cave on June 23 and could not escape after heavy rain had unexpectedly flooded the tunnels. It took 10 days for the boys to be found and another week before the miraculous rescue took them to safety.