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Toxic drugs in area result in three deaths

Further to a media release sent out last week, Hasting Prince Edward Public Health has sent another notice to community health partners warning of ongoing overdoses in the Belleville area.

“In collaboration with Belleville Police, Hastings-Quinte Paramedics, and other community partners, we have recorded 18 additional overdoses this week, and three resulting in death,” said Kelsey Schultz, Public Health Nurse, Harm Reduction. “We believe that there is a strong link to blue fentanyl, meaning there is a toxic batch circulating in our community. All of these events have taken place in the Belleville & Quinte West area.”

In 2020, HPEPH has seen a monthly average of 13 emergency department visits related to overdoses. Comparatively, it has seen almost two times that number reported in the community in the last two weeks alone. As overdose events are typically only reported when the individual seeks medical attention, HPEPH recognizes that other overdoses are likely occurring but not captured in available data.

“This makes these increased numbers even more concerning,” said Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health and CEO at HPEPH. “If you use drugs, please be aware that we suspect toxic batches of drugs are in our region and take steps to reduce possible harms. Avoid mixing drugs, try a small amount first, never use alone, and have at least one naloxone kit on hand.”

Schultz stated Public Health is continuing to urge community agencies to ensure clients are aware of this, and to encourage clients to not use alone and have naloxone kits readily available.

“Using alone significantly increases chances for overdose deaths. We also want to encourage clients to participate in other harm reduction safety measure such as using a small test dose first, and having clean supplies. We understand that these steps may be more difficult with COVID-19 restrictions.”

For information on substance use and Covid-19 for people who use drugs and for harm reduction providers please visit our website https://hpepublichealth.ca/substance-use-covid19/.

The Overdose Prevention Line, that is available seven-days-a-week, 24-hours a day is at 1-888-853-8524.

Locations on where to get naloxone and needle exchange supplies can also be found on our website here: https://hpepublichealth.ca/safer-drug-use/.

 

 

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