Brazil's Sao Paulo state suspends cuts in utilities services for poorest amid COVID-19

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Sao Paulo will suspend water supply, electricity and gas cuts until July 31 for the Brazilian state’s poorest residents who are unable to pay bills during the coronavirus pandemic, state governor Joao Doria said on Wednesday.

“The government of Sao Paulo guarantees the non-interruption of water, gas and electricity supply until July 31 for communities and low-income people who are unable to pay their bills”, said Doria in a press conference.

He added his administration reached a deal with state-run sanitation company Sabesp SA and natural gas distribution firm Comgas SA, owned by Brazilian energy group Cosan CSAN3.SA.

Doria said Sao Paulo state government has made the same request to Brazil’s electrical power regulator Aneel.

Access to clean water and sanitation is essential in stemming the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus in Brazil, which is now one of the world’s fastest growing hotspots.

Sao Paulo registered 123,483 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 8,276 deaths, according to data provided by the state health secretary.

Reporting by Eduardo Simoes; Writing by Gabriela Mello; Editing by Aurora Ellis