Money

Opioid overdoses on the rise in Canada during COVID-19 pandemic


© Reuters. A IV drug user fills a syringe with street drugs in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

By Moira Warburton

TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada’s opioid-related deaths have been rising since the coronavirus pandemic began, the country’s chief public health officer said on Friday.

Theresa Tam highlighted British Columbia, Canada’s westernmost province and the epicenter of the country’s overdose crisis, which had over 100 deaths from illicit drugs in March and April.

“These data indicate a very worrying trend,” Tam said. “It has been over a year since British Columbia observed numbers this high sustained over a two-month period.”

The trend is nationwide, Tam added, pointing to Toronto, whose paramedic service reported that April had the highest number of opioid-related deaths in a month since September 2017.

In Calgary, overdose interventions spiked, with safe injection sites treating 40 overdoses in both March and April, up sharply from 11 in February.

The federal government announced in March that it would loosen restrictions on pharmacists to prescribe safe drug alternatives, a policy activists and experts have recommended for years.

The pandemic has impacted the drug supply chain by closing borders, which has led to the higher death rate, said Guy Felicella, a peer clinical advisor with the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use.

“When (drugs become) more challenging to get, the potency goes up, the price goes up, everything goes up, and in that sense it becomes more deadly by the day,” Felicella said.

The pandemic only exacerbated existing problems, he said, adding that the safe drug supply measures being brought in are too little, too late.

READ  Head teacher calls for all schools to ban mobile phones during the school day

“You can’t blame COVID for your lack of response in addressing the overdose crisis,” he said.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





READ SOURCE

Leave a Reply