COVID-19: Sabesp and the Fight Against the Pandemic in São Paulo, Brazil

Sabesp is engaged in multiple actions to both protect people’s health and mitigate negative economic impacts caused by COVID-19.

Based on the major combat guidelines set by the São Paulo State Government, Sabesp is fully engaged to endure the COVID-19 pandemic within its operation area, which means 374 municipalities located throughout São Paulo state and home to about 28 million people.

Along with the increasing attention to maintaining the water supply, the Company’s Board has established an executive committee to monitor internal and external scenarios and deploy strategic measures against coronavirus spread.

Actions in progress are carried out on two fronts. One of them consists in mitigating negative economic impacts brought by the crisis. To this end, Sabesp exempted low-income customers from paying water and sewage bills. The measure benefits more than 2 million people across São Paulo State and is valid for three months (April, May, June and July).

Another major confrontation front focuses on the protection of people’s health. In this regard, in partnership with the private sector and municipalities, Sabesp is distributing more than 5,500 household water tanks to families living in poor communities so these people can be permanently supplied in case of pressure oscillations in the water supply network.

Also in partnership with municipalities, Sabesp is installing public washbasins in some socially vulnerable regions so that the population can wash their hands. About 440 of these are being installed in different points of São Paulo downtown, metropolitan São Paulo and another 28 cities in the countryside and coastal region.

Sabesp is also disinfecting the public spaces with a water-chlorine mixed solution, targeting those areas with a high concentration of people and, therefore, much more liable to contamination.

The employment of reused wastewater has been used to disinfect the surroundings of more than 100 locations such as health units and charitable restaurants in São Paulo Metropolitan Region. In the inland and coastal regions, several public spaces of about 300 municipalities have been the target of cleaning squads. About 17,000 cleanings have already been undertaken so far (aug/2020).

Furthermore, a partnership between Sabesp and the chemical industry enabled the donation of reused wastewater and sodium hypochlorite for public disinfections in some municipalities.

Joint actions among Sabesp´s volunteer groups, municipalities’ social departments and private companies are promoting the collection and distribution of food and sanitizer kits to the poorest households as well as the donation of over 100 thousand monthly staple food baskets in partnership with the São Paulo State Social Fund.

In-house, the concern for the good health conditions of workers also has driven the adoption of several precautionary measures. Management sector professionals are working from home and apprentice contracts were temporally suspended. The 412 customer-site branches set all over the state have been closed and customers are being guided to the online service via mobile app and virtual website branch.

The annual flu vaccination campaign has been brought forward and those working in operational core functions who cannot stay in self-isolation are receiving hygiene kits and personal protection equipment such as masks and gloves.

Those who work in the frontline but belong to vulnerable groups according to World Health Organization (people over 60 years old; and those with underlying medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and cancer) are being oriented to work from home in self-isolation.

The whole agenda of corporate events and business trips are suspended and company staff is being oriented to attend technical and management online training courses. There are more than 400 options available in the intranet corporate website.

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