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  • Local reports reveal at least seven Amazon warehouses in the US now have confirmed cases of Covid-19.
  • Amazon has also had cases of the virus confirmed in three of its European warehouses.
  • Amazon has had to balance the safety of its employees against skyrocketing demand for its services amid the coronavirus crisis.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Amazon now has Covid-19 cases across 10 of its warehouses globally and faces growing pressure from unions and workers' rights groups to shut down facilities.

Local media reported that there are now seven cases across Amazon's US warehouses in New York, Kentucky, Florida, Texas, Michigan, Connecticut, and Oklahoma have had workers test positive for Covid-19.

Last week a delivery station in Queens, New York was temporarily shut down after becoming the first US facility to detect a case of the virus.

Athena, a workers' rights advocacy group, said workers at Amazon's New York warehouse had to continue working while the facility was being cleaned after the case there was confirmed.

Amazon had already confirmed that three of its warehouses in Europe (two in Spain and one in Italy) had cases of the virus, but ruled out shutting the warehouses down - prompting its Italian workers to strike in protest.

Amazon has kept its warehouses running even with confirmed Covid-19 cases

Some workers have voiced concerns that, as Amazon ramps up its workforce to cope with the spiking demand, they are not adequately protected.

"As of Tuesday afternoon, there was no plan to shut down the [Staten Island, New York] facility," Athena said in its release.

While Amazon has temporarily closed some facilities for deep cleaning in the wake of Covid-19 cases, it has not totally halted operations at any.

This is a contrast to the treatment of white-collar workers in tech, with Amazon and other major US tech firms closing down offices and mandating that workers work from home.

Commenting on the most recent case in New York, an Amazon spokeswoman said: "We are supporting the individual who is recovering. We are following guidelines from local officials and are taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of employees at our site."

She added that the employee in question was last on-site on March 11 and that Amazon had asked anyone who had had contact with them to take 14 days of paid leave.

Amazon has altered its warehouse policies since the outbreak of the virus as it tries to balance worker safety with a huge spike in online orders from people locked down at home.

It has introduced a 3-foot distance rule for its workers, scrapped security checks at its gates, and put out hand sanitiser and anti-bacterial spray bottles. The company says it has also increased cleaning of its facilities.

Some workers told Business Insider that these measures are not necessarily effective; workers are still packed together inside an enclosed space, and in some warehouses the provisions of sanitising equipment for workers either run out or are stolen.

A worker in Jacksonville, Florida - which also has a confirmed case- told Business Insider that communication about the virus was "very, very poor."

"Amazon, like Trump, was slow to respond, vague with the truth, and values dollars over lives," they added.

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