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3 drug-related deaths in last 48 hours in Peterborough: health unit

More accidental drug poisoning deaths in Peterborough
Some disturbing news from the city's public health unit. There have been three suspected drug poisoning deaths in the community within a 48 period. As Dan Nyznik reports, COVID-19 could be a factor in the fatalities.

Peterborough Public Health reports there have been three suspected drug-related deaths in the last 48 hours in Peterborough, Ont.

The health unit says that now brings the total of known drug-related deaths to six for the month of May and 15 for the year.

READ MORE: Peterborough woman charged with possession of fentanyl for trafficking: police

“That is more than all of the COVID-19 related deaths (two) that we had in Peterborough since March,” said Dr. Rosana Salavaterra, medical officer of health.

The health unit and Peterborough police are investigating and the drugs have not been confirmed. However, the health unit says there are reports of a blue (both a bright and dark shade) and a dark purple opioid product that is suspected to primarily contain fentanyl.

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“We need to continue to address this critical public health crisis, which in some ways is intensifying due to COVID-19,” said Salvaterra.

Purple fentanyl, meth, replica guns seized in Deseronto following OPP search
Purple fentanyl, meth, replica guns seized in Deseronto following OPP search

Deanna Vandenbroek, health promoter with Peterborough Public Health, notes safety measures amid the pandemic, such as the closing of the border to the U.S. and ports, could impact what drugs are available in a community.

“If a certain drug is less available, people could potentially be turning to do toxic drugs like fentanyl which they may have little to no tolerance for,” said Broderick. “Fentanyl being such a potent opioid, it takes very little of it to lead to a poisoning.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Ontario opioid crisis worsens during pandemic as services for drug users scale back

Mayor Dianne Therrien said the city continues to work with health officials to address the ongoing opioid crises.

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“Those deaths are not acceptable,” she said.

There were 30 drug-related deaths in the City of Peterborough in 2019.

The health unit advises that street drugs may be cut or mixed with toxic substances and that even a small amount of drug can cause a fatal poisoning. If someone chooses to do drugs, they should carry a naloxone kit, avoid mixing drugs and should not do them alone.

Under Canada’s Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, if you seek medical help for yourself or for someone else
who has overdosed, an individual cannot be charged for possessing or using drugs for your own use, the health unit advises.