At least 5 Amazon warehouse workers in Europe test positive for the coronavirus

Key Points
  • At least five workers at Amazon warehouses in Europe have tested positive for the coronavirus. 
  • The employees work in Amazon fulfillment centers in Spain and Italy.
  • The cases mark the first known incidents of warehouse workers contracting the virus, after two Amazon employees in Seattle tested positive for COVID-19. 
Amazon fulfillment center warehouse.
Getty Images

At least five workers at Amazon warehouses in Europe have tested positive for the coronavirus, the company confirmed to CNBC. 

The cases are at warehouses in Spain and Italy, two areas that have been hit hard in the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The facilities will remain open, despite Italy instituting a nationwide lockdown and Spain declaring a state of emergency.

An Amazon spokesperson said the "vast majority" of its employees around the world continue to come to work and it has stepped up safety measures at fulfillment centers to protect against the virus. The company is following all guidance from health officials related to operating its buildings, the spokesperson added.

"We are going to great lengths to keep the buildings extremely clean and help employees practice important precautions such as social distancing and other measures," the spokesperson said. "Those who don't want to come to work are welcome to use paid and unpaid time off options and we support them in doing so."

News of the cases was first reported by Bloomberg

The cases mark the first known incidents of warehouse workers testing positive for the coronavirus. Amazon confirmed March 3 that an employee working out of its Brazil office building Seattle contracted the disease. On Friday, Amazon said another employee based out of one of its offices in Seattle tested positive for COVID-19.

As the coronavirus continues to spread, Amazon logistics workers circulated a petition calling for the company to put in place more "protective measures," including giving workers paid leave. 

"While Amazon has made some limited coronavirus accommodations, it needs a comprehensive plan to ensure the safety of all of its workers and the larger public, including giving workers paid leave and not simply extending our unpaid leave, as was announced recently," the petition states. 

Last week, Amazon advised global employees who are able to work from home to do so through the end of March. The directive applies to employees at Amazon's corporate offices. 

Unlike employees at Amazon's corporate offices, many fulfillment center employees and delivery drivers cannot carry out their job duties while working from home. Last week, Amazon moved to address the unique needs of fulfillment centers and delivery by launching a $25 million relief fund. The "Amazon Relief Fund" will allow these employees to apply for grants that are equal to or up to two weeks of pay if they're diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. 

The company also said it will provide up to two weeks of pay to all employees diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed into quarantine, effective immediately. This is in addition to unlimited unpaid time off for all hourly employees through the month of March, which CNBC previously reported

Amazon working on delivering coronavirus test kits
Amazon working on delivering coronavirus test kits