Amazon on Monday said it was boosting pay and hiring 100,000 US workers due to strain on its workforce caused by a surge in online shopping prompted by coronavirus fears.

The Seattle-based firm expects to spend more than $350 million to bump up hourly pay in North America and Europe for employees and partners in distribution centres, transportation operations and stores.

"Getting a priority item to your doorstep is vital as communities practice social-distancing, particularly for the elderly and others with underlying health issues," senior vice president of worldwide operations Dave Clark said in a blog post.

"We are seeing a significant increase in demand, which means our labour needs are unprecedented for this time of year."

Amazon is addling 100,000 full or part-time jobs across the US, according to Clark. 

"Many people have been economically impacted as jobs in areas like hospitality, restaurants, and travel are lost or furloughed as part of this crisis," he said.

"We want those people to know we welcome them on our teams until things return to normal and their past employer is able to bring them back."

Amazon hourly pay in the US, currently $15 or more, will be increased $2 through April, according to Clark.

Hourly pay in Britain will get a boost of two pounds, while the increase will be about €2 in other parts of Europe, Amazon said.

Clark added that Amazon is promoting social distancing in workplaces, and has enhanced cleaning regimens as health safeguards.

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