B.C. records highest ever number of opioid deaths in May

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The BC Coroners Service has released some disturbing new numbers around drug overdose deaths.

In May, the province recorded 170 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths — the highest monthly total ever recorded in B.C. It equates to about 5.5 deaths a day.

It’s a 93-per-cent spike over the number of deaths in May 2019, and a 44-per-cent increase over April 2020.

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In comparison, 53 people died from COVID-19 in the same month.

The B.C. cities with the highest number of opioid deaths were Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria.

“It is both sad and deeply frustrating to see the number of illicit drug deaths reach a new high in B.C. four years after the declaration of a public health emergency,” Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner, said in a release. “Despite the many collective efforts directed at this crisis, the toxic drug supply continues to take the lives of our family members, friends and colleagues.”

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The increase appears to be connected to increased toxicity of drugs compared with previous months. The coroners’ report found there was a surge in the number of cases with extreme fentanyl concentrations.

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