Suspected opioid deaths in Peterborough area rise to 20 so far in 2021: health unit

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Peterborough Public Health is warning the community about potential drug poisonings following a slew of overdoses – May 5, 2021

Peterborough Public Health says the number of suspected opioid-related deaths in the area has risen to 20.

Jocelyn Qualtrough, health promoter, family and community health with the health unit, told Global News Morning Peterborough Wednesday that there have been 20 deaths this year as of May 3 in the city and county.

It’s up from 13 suspected opioid-related deaths reported in late March amid the opioid crisis.

“Those are suspected — they have not been confirmed by the Office of the Chief Coroner,” she noted.

Read more: ‘Alarming’ spike in weekend drug overdoses in Peterborough area, health unit says

Qualtrough also said that in 2020 the region’s rate of opioid-related emergency department visits was 151 per 100,000 residents.

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“This is nearly double the provincial rate of 81 per 100,000 population,” she said.

On Monday the health unit issued an alert following a spike in overdoses on the weekend. From Friday to Monday, there were 21 opioid-related calls for service and 13 emergency department visits.

Qualtrough says the Peterborough Opioid Early Warning Taskforce says it issued a warning as a result of the incidents.

“This was an alarming increase so it was decided among our task force members — made up of local agencies — to release a public alert right away to get as much information as possible out to the public,” she said.

The health unit encourages the use of naloxone kits to help counter the effects of a drug overdose. Users of drugs are encouraged to access the kits from local community-based harm reduction programs

To learn more about the city’s opioid crisis and substance use and ongoing efforts, Qualtrough says to visit the Peterborough Drug Strategy website.

“Substance use and the opioid crisis is everyone’s problem,” she said. “We’re in a dual public health crisis right now with COVID-19 and opioids. The more individuals know and learn about substance abuse, and the poison drug supply, the better. So knowledge is power.

“We’re all feeling isolated right now so reach out to those who may feel disconnected and ask if they are OK, see if you can help them out.”

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