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Media Release: Increase in Overdose Related Deaths in HPE

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/December 9, 2020 – Following the overdose warning released by HPEPH on December 2, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health continues to report unusually high rates of overdose in the region over the past several days, including overdoses resulting in death.

HPEPH, Belleville Police Services, Hastings-Quinte Paramedics and other community partners, are aware of 18 additional overdoses occurring over the past week, three of which resulted in death.  Local partners have reported that these overdoses may be linked to a toxic batch of blue fentanyl in the Belleville area.  In 2020, HPEPH has seen a monthly average of 13 Emergency Department visits related to overdoses. Comparatively, we have 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.   

“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,” says Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health and CEO at HPEPH. “Avoid mixing drugs, try a small amount first, never use alone, and have at least one naloxone kit on hand.”

As using drugs alone significantly increases the risk of an overdose that leads to death, people who use drugs can also call into the Overdose Prevention Line 24/7 at 1-888-853-8542, for someone to stay on the line with them and alert 911 should they lose consciousness.  

If you or someone you know is struggling with drug use and would like support, visit HPEPH’s Getting Help page. To protect yourself and others, be aware of the signs of an opioid overdose and pick up a free naloxone kit. For more information about safer drug use including locations where naloxone is available, visit hpepublichealth.ca/safer-drug-use.

Residents are reminded that an overdose is a medical emergency. Anyone who suspects or witnesses an overdose should call 911. The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act provides some legal protection against simple drug possession charges for anyone who experiences, witnesses or responds to an overdose and calls 911. 

 
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For more information contact:

Emily Tubbs, Communications Specialist

etubbs@hpeph.ca

Maureen Hyland, Communications Specialist

mhyland@hpeph.ca

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COVID-19 VACCINES IN HPEPH

Appointments for individuals 5+ can be booked through the provincial vaccine booking site, or by calling 1-833-943-3900 from 8 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week.  

Due to limited supply, HPEPH will initially be prioritizing available bivalent vaccine for residents and workers at identified highest-risk facilities.  Some HPEPH vaccination clinics MAY offer the bivalent vaccine, as availability allows. Vaccine clinics in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties will continue to offer monovalent vaccines (the same mRNA vaccines given as the primary series) for all eligible individuals until a steady supply of the bivalent vaccine is available.

Visit the HPEPH vaccine booking web page for details.

COVID-19 PROTOCOLS

Symptoms or exposure? Visit www.ontario.ca/exposed for the most up to date information about what to do.

For the most up to date information on current provincial restrictions, visit https://covid-19.ontario.ca/public-health-measures.

The Ministry of Health has launched a new toll-free line as an additional resource to help answer questions from the public regarding evolving COVID-19 testing and isolation guidance. The line can be reached at 1-888-777-0730, and is available from 8 am to 6 pm, 7 days a week.