Canada signs agreement with Amazon Canada to manage distribution of medical equipment

FILE PHOTO: Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference at Rideau Cottage as efforts continue to help slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada March 29, 2020. REUTERS/Blair Gable

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada has signed an agreement with Amazon Canada AMZN.O to manage the distribution of medical equipment like masks, gloves and ventilators purchased by the Canadian government to help in its fight against the cornonavirus outbreak, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday.

Deaths surged to 208 from the 127 reported on Thursday, while positive cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease casued by the coronavirus, rose to 12,375 from 10,132, according to provincial announcements compiled by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp on Friday.

The Canadian government has been working with manufacturers in recent weeks to increase the production and supply of high-demand medical items like face shields, masks, gloves, ventilators, gowns and test kits, which are used by frontline healthcare workers.

“Our government has signed an agreement with Amazon Canada to manage the distribution of this equipment to the provinces and territories,” Trudeau told reporters during a daily news briefing outside his Ottawa home.

Trudeau did not provide details on the value of the contract, but a government news release issued later on Friday said Amazon was providing the service to Canadians at cost, without profit.

“The Amazon Canada team is proud to partner with the Government of Canada by leveraging our fulfillment network and delivery service partners to ship critical supplies to front-line medical professionals across the country,” Mike Strauch, a country manager for Amazon Canada, said in a statement.

Amazon Canada will work collaboratively with the Canadian government to manage orders through its online Amazon Business store, Ottawa said in a release.

The online retail giant will also use its Canadian distribution network, including Canada Post and Purolator, a major Canadian courier, to deliver the supplies.

Reporting by Kelsey Johnson in Ottawa; Editing by Tom Brown