B.C. records highest number of fatal overdoses in a single month, with 170 deaths

The BC Coroners Service mentioned 170 folks died of a bootleg drug overdose in Could, the very best complete ever recorded for a single month in provincial historical past.

It is also extra folks than have died from COVID-19 in B.C. all 12 months.

“It is irritating to see the variety of illicit drug deaths go up and to achieve a brand new excessive … It is unhappy to see this many individuals impacted, dropping their lives,” mentioned Andy Watson, a spokesperson for the coroners service.

The province mentioned 167 folks have died of COVID-19 since B.C.’s first case of the virus was confirmed six months in the past. The annual complete for overdoses in B.C. was 554 as of Could 31.

‘Excessive’ fentanyl concentrations

Greater than 82 per cent of overdose deaths in Could concerned fentanyl.

Watson mentioned autopsy toxicology testing suggests there have been a larger variety of instances with “excessive” concentrations of the opioid in Could in contrast with earlier months.

“The speed and the extent of fentanyl focus is the very best that we have seen it,” Watson mentioned Thursday.

“We all know … that the drug provide proper now could be extremely poisonous … For people who find themselves utilizing medication, it is a harmful time proper now.”

B.C. was beginning to see a drop in overdose deaths by the tip of 2019, solely to see a surge as soon as the COVID-19 pandemic started. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Photographs)

A press release from the coroners service mentioned 70 per cent of drug overdose deaths this 12 months have been males, with 85 per cent of fatalities taking place inside a house. 

No deaths have been reported at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention websites. The Fraser Well being and Vancouver Coastal Well being authorities had the very best quantity of deaths.

Public well being emergency enters its 4th 12 months

The provincial authorities declared a public well being emergency on April 14, 2016, as overdose deaths started to spike. Since then, greater than 5,000 folks have died.

B.C. was beginning to see a drop in deaths by the tip of 2019, solely to see a surge as soon as the COVID-19 pandemic started.

Measures to forestall the unfold of the coronavirus created fears that the unlawful drug provide would turn into much more poisonous, with common provide chains minimize off. Restricted entry to supervised consumption websites, overdose prevention websites or drug-checking providers additionally created a hazard, Watson mentioned.

The province published guidelines for a secure provide of medicine for customers in March in an effort to forestall extra deaths.

Provincial Well being Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, who has additionally been main B.C.’s pandemic response, has referred to as for the decriminalization of the possession of unlawful medication within the province for years. She has repeated her advice this 12 months.

The province mentioned in 2019 it wouldn’t comply with Henry’s advice, as decriminalization fell beneath federal jurisdiction.

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