ANKARA 

Amazon said almost 20,000 of its workers have contracted the novel coronavirus since March, the first time the e-commerce firm has disclosed a figure since the start of the pandemic. 

Amazon said Thursday in a blog statement 19,816 employees have tested positive or been presumed positive for COVID-19.

“We have done a thorough analysis of data on all 1,372,000 Amazon and Whole Foods Market front-line employees across the US employed at any time from March 1 to Sept. 19, 2020,” said the statement.

The company did not state the number of deaths in its statement. But at least 10 Amazon employees have died from COVID-19, which Amazon has confirmed, according to a NBC News report on Thursday.

The report also said around 500,000 Amazon workers at 110 facilities across the US have been trying to compile data by themselves on outbreaks via text messages.

Amazon has long been criticized for lack of transparency, health of employees, putting profit before safety, frequent accidents in warehouses, long overtime hours and poor working conditions.

When a tornado warning in Wisconsin was issued in August, hundreds of Amazon employees were stuffed in windowless rooms for half an hour, according to the report.

In the UK, employees at Amazon’s warehouses were told in March to work overtime to meet high demand despite British officials calling for social distancing.

As consumers have turned more to online shopping due to COVID-19, Amazon announced on Sept. 14 to hire 100,000 new employees across the US and Canada to expand its operations.

Since the beginning of 2020, the company has opened over 75 new fulfillment, sortation centers, regional air hubs, and delivery stations across the US and Canada. The firm has more than 175 warehouses, known as fulfillment centers, around the world in addition to some 110 operational facilities.

Amazon said it distributes masks, disinfectants for workers and makes temperature checks, while it is working on building a scalable testing for coronavirus.

The firm said while employees receive comprehensive health benefits starting on day one, someone diagnosed with COVID-19 will receive up to two weeks of time off with full pay, and more if necessary.

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