British Columbia’s longest public health emergency claimed another 153 lives in November 2020, according to the latest BC Coroners Service report.
So far this year, a total of 1,548 people have died of toxic drug overdose. In November, like in October, more than five people died each day of the month.
Once again, the highest number of deaths occurred in Vancouver, Surrey, and Victoria. In the capital city, 118 people have died so far this year, but November 2020 saw two overdose deaths—compared to 13 in October.
“Island Health illicit drug toxicity death rates have been trending downwards over the past several months; however, all other health authority rates remain high,” reads the report.
2020 is on track to be the deadliest year on record in the province’s overdose crisis.
So far, the highest number of drug-related fatalities recorded in BC was in 2018 when 1,549 people lost their lives. The first 11 months of 2020 have accounted for almost exactly that number of deaths.
“In the five years of this public health emergency, more than 6,500 families have experienced the grief and sadness of losing a loved one to the challenging medical condition of drug addiction,” said chief coroner, Lisa Lapointe, in a statement.
“Ensuring access to critical harm reduction measures including naloxone, supervised consumption sites, overdose prevention sites and drug checking services are essential if we want to prevent future deaths.”
Fentanyl has been detected in about 83 per cent of all overdose deaths, and about 13 per cent of all cases featured extreme fentanyl concentrations between April and November 2020.
The top four drugs found in overdose deaths over the past three years are fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine/amphetamine, and other opioids.
No deaths have been reported at safe consumption or overdose prevention sites.