Millions of people could be given a break from paying energy bills due to the coronavirus outbreak

By Claire Schofield
Monday, 16th March 2020, 1:21 pm
Updated Monday, 16th March 2020, 1:35 pm
EDF Energy has said it would consider permitting delayed payments from customers who are affected by the virus outbreak (Photo: Shutterstock)
EDF Energy has said it would consider permitting delayed payments from customers who are affected by the virus outbreak (Photo: Shutterstock)

Millions of households could be granted a delay on their energy bills amid the coronavirus outbreak, which has forced many to have to work from home.

EDF Energy has said it would consider permitting delayed payments from customers who are affected by the Covid-19 virus outbreak, including those who have had to self isolate.

An offer of support

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A spokesperson for EDF - which is one of the biggest utility companies in the country, with around five million customers - told The Sun, “We recognise that over the coming weeks Covid-19 may have an impact on our customers, and we are prepared to offer these customers additional support and flexibility.

“Each case would be looked at on an individual basis, but additional support we could offer may include repayments made over a longer period of time, delay payment for a short period or offer alternative payment arrangements.”

The announcement comes after the Government said as many as a fifth of UK employees could be off work, and firms instruct more people to work from home.

Energy firm bosses are said to be in regular contact with the Government, as well as regulators, to find the best way to support customers who may have financial difficulty amid the outbreak, The Telegraph reports.

(Photo: WHO)

Coronavirus: the facts

What is coronavirus?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.

What caused coronavirus?

The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.

How is it spread?

As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.

What are the symptoms?

The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.

What precautions can be taken?

Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.

Should I avoid public places?

Most people who feel well can continue to go to work, school and public places and should only stay at home and self isolate if advised by a medical professional or the coronavirus service.

What should I do if I feel unwell?

Don’t go to your GP but instead call NHS 111 or look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.

When to call NHS 111

NHS 111 should be used if you feel unwell with coronavirus symptoms, have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus.

Sources: World Health Organisation and NHS