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Recent surge in illicit drug deaths a big concern for BC Chief Coroner

(Files by Brendan Pawliw-MyPGNow)

BC Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe states certain elements related to the COVID-19 pandemic are playing a role in the recent spike in illicit drug deaths in the province.

The Coroners Service reported its highest death toll for the second straight month with 175 in June, surpassing the previous mark of 171 in May.

Lapointe believes two factors are responsible for the recent surge.

“We believe it’s related to both social distancing and increased toxicity of the drug supply, we’ve seen those numbers rise quite dramatically again where we are seeing 130% more deaths in June of 2020 than June of 2019.”

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“And then of course as I say that, on top of a more toxic drug supply, we are starting to see way more extreme fentanyl concentrations in post-mortem toxicology and that’s all combined to create a very precarious situation.”

There have been 728 illicit drug deaths in BC this year.

“These substances are not made with any quality control so really there is no way of knowing what you are using and drug checking is very, very important.”

“A lot of the resources that those who use substances were beginning to rely on for drug checking or for consuming in front of medical personnel who are there to assist, they diminished.”

Northern Health has the second-highest rate of illicit drug deaths in the province trailing Vancouver Coastal.

According to BC Emergency Health Services, paramedics respond to about 2-thousand overdose calls per month.

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