Coronavirus spreads to at least nine Amazon warehouses

The US company is working to cope with the 'surge' in demand for online deliveries


Coronavirus appears to have spread to at least nine Amazon warehouses as the company races to cope with a flood of orders from people staying inside.

Amazon workers have tested positive for Covid-19 in a minimum of six US sites over the past few weeks, as well as two in Spain and one in Italy according to local reports. 

The company has shut some of the facilities to clean them, and has placed members of staff into quarantine. It has also introduced new health and safety measures including promoting social distancing and cleaning sites more frequently.

A spokesman for Amazon said: “We are supporting the individuals, following guidelines from local officials, and are taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of all the employees at our sites.”

Staff, however, have pushed for warehouses to be closed completely if staff members are found to have contracted Covid-19.

A petition was launched last week and signed by more than 1,500 workers calls for Amazon to shut down facilities and give workers paid leave at their normal rate while the sites are sterilised and staff are tested.

Senators in the US have also expressed their concern over safety procedures at the company's warehouses, warning Amazon could put "the entire country at risk" if conditions were not sanitary. 

Amazon employs almost 800,000 people arounnd the world, many in its logistics operations processing and delivering parcels.

It said last week it would be hiring an additional 100,000 people to cope with the surge in demand brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Dave Clark, Amazon's senior vice president of worldwide operations, said: "We are seeing a significant increase in demand, which means our labour needs are unprecedented for this time of year. 

"Getting a priority item to your doorstep is vital as communities practice social-distancing, particularly for the elderly and others with underlying health issues."

This week Britons were urged to stay inside by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said they should use food delivery services and should only venture outside to shop for basic necessities as infrequently as possible or go to work in jobs which cannot be done from home. 

Warehouse workers and couriers have been classed as "key workers" by the Government, as have doctors, nurses and carers - meaning they are seen as essential for keeping the country running.

Amazon is prioritising deliveries of medical supplies and household staples, it said last week.