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Overdoses in Belleville Area Reach Record High in May

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties (18/06/2020) – Further to the media release issued on March 23, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) has continued to see an increase in opioid overdoses over the past two months. Emergency Department overdose events in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties reached a record high of 22 in May, and 19 in April. In addition, Belleville Police Services and Hastings-Quinte Paramedic Services have also reported responding to an increase in calls related to overdose events. Neighbouring health units are also experiencing similar worrisome trends.

HPEPH understands that the COVID-19 pandemic and associated stresses are difficult for many individuals and may lead to an increase in substance use. Those who use drugs are urged to engage in harm reduction efforts to avoid overdose. Steps to reduce harms related to drugs include:

  • having a naloxone kit
  • never using alone
  • avoid mixing drugs or using drugs and alcohol at the same time
  • using a small test dose first

Another option is to call into the Overdose Prevention Line Monday to Friday 10am to 10pm and Saturday to Sunday 10am to midnight at 1-888-853-8542. The operator will ask for the caller’s location and stay on the phone line while the caller uses drugs. In the event that they receive no response after administration of narcotics, the operator will call 911 and alert them to a possible overdose at the location provided by the caller.

Naloxone and harm reduction supplies continue to be available during regular office hours at Belleville, Bancroft, and Trenton HPEPH locations for contact-free pickup. “We recognize that this is a very challenging time for our community” says Dr. Caturay, Acting Medical Officer of Health at HPEPH. “We know that some people may use drugs or alcohol as a way to cope and we want to ensure that everyone who is struggling has the information they need to reduce potential harm. In addition to regular harm reduction practises, those who use drugs are reminded to take additional precautions to reduce the risk of COVID-19 during the pandemic. This includes maintaining physical distance practises, frequent hand washing, and avoiding shared equipment”.

If you struggle with use of drugs or alcohol, you are not alone. If you are looking for help to manage or stop your substance use, review the Getting Help section of the HPEPH website, which identifies free and confidential community resources that are available to assist you. For additional information regarding safer drug use and overdose prevention, visit our Safer Drug Use web page.


Media Contact:
Emily Tubbs, Communications Specialist

Veronica Montgomery, Foundational Standards Manager

About Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is a public health agency that serves the counties of Hastings and Prince Edward from four local offices. We monitor the health of our local population, deliver programs and services within our communities, and help develop healthy public policies. We provide information and support in many areas to help improve the health and well-being of our residents. Together with our communities, we help people become as healthy as they can be. For more information, please visit You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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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.


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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.