Fentanyl overdoses rise, emergency reporting takes effect

B.C. averaging 60 overdose cases a month, half involving fentanyl that users likely don't know they are taking

B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake

Drug overdose cases continue at high levels as an emergency order to report them immediately takes effect for hospitals, paramedics, police and firefighters across B.C.

Health Minister Terry Lake said Thursday there were 56 overdose cases reported in April, and the province has seen an average of 60 a month since January. Half of those cases are related to fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid increasingly showing up in street drugs.

“People don’t know they’re taking it, and it’s 100 times more powerful than other opioids,” Lake said. “They think they’re taking oxycontin or something like that, and it’s fentanyl, and there are tragic consequences.”

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall sent out B.C.’s first-ever public health emergency order this week to emergency wards and first responders. Real-time reports of clusters of overdoses are to allow local public warnings and deployment of naloxone, an antidote for opioid overdoses.

Lake said the real-time information has been shown to work.

“In Kamloops a couple of weeks ago, we were lucky enough to be able to collect data from the emergency department, and we had about seven treated overdoses in 24 hours,” he said. “We were able to get that word out quickly, and in that case I think we were able to avoid deaths.”

Fentanyl has been traced to illicit drug labs in China. Considered 100 times more potent than heroin and other opioids, its strength makes it easy to smuggle and to reach dangerous levels when mixed with other drugs.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vernon Vipers thump Merritt

BCHL: Win moves Vipers to within a point of third-place Wenatchee

Vernon basketball product’s college career ends in loss

Michael Rouault scores 23 points for TRU but team falls; sister’s squad also eliminated

Vernon Vipers entertain Merritt in Monday afternoon tilt

Vipers sit in fourth place in BCHL Interior Division, three points behind Wenatchee

Vernon Winter Carnival 60s theme a hit with residents

Milestone 60th anniversary Carnival wrapped up Sunday

North Okanagan delegates off to BC Winter Games

Athletes, coaches and officials making the long trek north

Kelowna’s Family YMCA opens doors on Family Day

The entire day was free for the community

RCMP report woman arrested after ramming police cruiser

Suspect wanted for crimes allegedly committed in Kelowna, Salmon Arm and 100 Mile House

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Kelowna RCMP arrest alleged impaired driver

The driver is facing potential charges after power pole collision

South Okanagan mountain bore racist name for a half century

Nkawala Mountain was initially named in connection with the deaths of two black men.

Most Read