Gold medallist Laura Thompson on the 'devastating realities' of COVID-19 as family fights virus

Laura Thompson (left and right) is pregnant. Her mum-in-law is in ICU. She has a message for Kiwis to take COVID-19 seriously.
Laura Thompson (left and right) is pregnant. Her mum-in-law is in ICU. She has a message for Kiwis to take COVID-19 seriously. Photo credit: Supplied / Getty Images.

A coveted New Zealand cyclist who is 12 weeks pregnant has a message for Kiwis about the "devastating realities" of COVID-19 after she and close family members all tested positive. 

Paralympic gold-medalist Laura Thompson, her partner Will and his parents have been confirmed as COVID-19 patients. 

Her mother-in-law is on a ventilator in ICU at Dunedin Hospital, after battling symptoms that first appeared on March 28. 

Thompson says her family took "every precaution" to safeguard against the virus they believe was initially contracted through community transmission. 

"Like many others, my mother-in-law was told she had the flu and to ring back in three days if she's no better," Thompson told Newshub. "We have no idea where she got it."

Thompson's symptoms started five days ago before she and her partner were confirmed on Monday. Her two children likely also have the virus, but have not been tested. 

Thompson was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to cycling in 2013.
Thompson was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to cycling in 2013. Photo credit: Getty Images.

After seeing people bend the rules to interact during lockdown, the former professional basketballer is urging Kiwis to take the restrictions seriously. 

Thompson who won a gold, silver and bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Paralympics, and a silver and bronze at the 2016 Summer Paralympics as a 'pilot' for blind cyclists Phillipa Gray and Emma Foy, says the virus is devastating "in so many ways". 

"If your loved ones are sick, they lie in hospital alone, you can't visit them, you can't do anything. 

"If like us, you have kids they go through it all, they can't go to the park or stay with family, they witness it all and you can't even hug them, as you risk infecting them." 

She says no matter how sick you get, you must continue to look after them. 

When Thompson's partner tested positive, she was overcome with a sense of relief. 

"The best news we have had in days… it meant I could give him a hug." 

She says someone may experience only minor symptoms, but another person won't. 

"Stay home, it saves lives and pain," she says. 

"People cannot become complacent. I was told I was over the top with the precautions I took leading into the lockdown." 

Thompson was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to cycling in 2013. 

From 2014-16, the mother-of-two won eight medals - including three gold - at the UCI para-cycling track and road champions. 

Her children are seven months old and two-and-a-half.  

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