Officials report increase in overdoses in Barrie, Ont., over last several days

Click to play video: 'Fatal overdoses increased during pandemic, report finds'
Fatal overdoses increased during pandemic, report finds
WATCH: It doesn’t matter where you live in Ontario, or what your background might be, deaths from overdoses touch every part of our society. New data indicates the opioid crisis has worsened throughout the pandemic, especially in marginalized communities. Katherine Ward has more on the growing calls for those in power to rethink and address this issue – May 19, 2021

Local officials are reporting an increase in drug overdoses that have taken place in Barrie, Ont., over the past several days.

In the last three days, Simcoe County paramedics have responded to more than 20 opioid overdoses concentrated in Barrie, with a number of other possible calls across several other parts of the region, a spokesperson confirmed Friday afternoon.

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The number is up from Thursday evening, when the Barrie Police Service reported more than 12 overdoses in the past 24 hours and an increase in hospitalizations.

“There’ve been no deaths that we know of,” Gardner told reporters Friday. “There have been a number of calls to paramedic services. There have been a number of incidents where people have gone to the emergency department.”

It’s unknown the exact substances that were involved in the overdoses, but Barrie police believe they’re connected to a bad batch of fentanyl that’s circulating in the community.

“It may be that individuals have to use more than one naloxone kit in response to this situation,” Gardner added.

Those who encounter someone who may have overdosed should look for signs of blue lips or nailbeds and slow, erratic or no breathing, said JC Gilbert, the deputy chief of Simcoe County’s paramedics. If people see someone with those signs, they should call 911, he added.

Just more than two weeks ago, Barrie police warned of a dangerous green drug circulating in the city. Officers said the drug was potent enough to require multiple applications of naloxone.

According to health officials, “bootleg fentanyl,” a dangerous and powerful opioid, is being mixed into many street drugs in Simcoe County, Muskoka and other Ontario regions.

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Gardner said there’s been a rise in opioid toxicity in Simcoe County, Muskoka and Ontario over the years and that the issue has gotten “considerably more severe” since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were 133 confirmed and probable opioid-related deaths in Simcoe County and Muskoka in 2020, which was more than 60 per cent higher than the 81 deaths per year on average between 2017 and 2019.

On Monday, Barrie city councillors approved the location for the city’s first supervised consumption site. The project proposal must now go to the provincial and federal governments for approval.

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Suspected opioid deaths rise to 20 in Peterborough region: health unit

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