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Breaking News Update: Video of first contact with the missing boys

This is the heart warming moment when a British rescue worker talks to the children for the first time. Unaware how long they have been trapped underground, but still braving smiles and talking back.

Concern raised over health of youths due to harmful bacteria from cave bats

THOROUGH medical check-ups await the 12 young footballers and their coach as soon as they are rescued from the Chiang Rai cave after health experts expressed concern about the possible risk of contracting a virus from bats.

Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital is prepared to evaluate the rescued group and 13 medical teams, one for each of the missing, are poised to accompany them there from the cave entrance. The hospital has readied a separate zone to examine the 13 football team members and provide treatment as necessary, said Chiang Rai Public Health Office chief Dr Tossathep Boonthong yesterday.

Tossathep noted that scientific surveys had found potentially harmful bacteria in the droppings of cave-dwelling bats, and Tham Luang cave where the rescue mission is underway had never been surveyed.

He said the Disease Control Department planned to collect and analyse samples of the bats’ droppings from Tham Luang once the missing party was rescued.

Dr Thiravat Hemachudha, who heads the Emerging Infectious Diseases Centre, said health authorities had concerns for not just stranded team members, but also rescuers working inside the camp.

“Aside from bats, there are also mosquitoes and various insects. They may spread diseases,” he said, mentioning the threats from bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Thiravat said he had already raised the issue with Public Health Minister Dr Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn so that proper preparations could be made.

“Our preparations do not mean the stranded victims and rescuers have definitely caught diseases. We have just prepared measures that will deliver immediate help if they are infected,” the prominent doctor said.

According to Thiravat, even the health conditions of parents camping out in front of the cave to directly hear updates about rescue operations’ progress will need to be monitored.

The cave is located inside a forest park.

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