A group of drug overdoses at a party in Vancouver last night has renewed warnings about the increased toxicity of street drugs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Vancouver Police Department stated today (November 28) that B.C. Ambulance requested the help of police while attending a call about several overdoses at a party at an apartment on Jervis Street near Davie Street in the West End at 12:20 a.m. today.
When first responders arrived at the apartment, they found at least five people in serious medical distress. In addition, several people outside the suite needed medical assistance.
Both paramedics and police officers administered multiple doses of naloxone.
Seven adults overdosed from consuming cocaine and MDMA at the party.
“Although the VPD does not typically attend overdose calls, BC Ambulance requested our help,” VPD spokesperson Const. Jason Doucette explained in a news release. “Due to the reported large number of reported casualties at the location, we were initially dispatched to ensure a safe environment for everyone involved.”
“The local supply chain is clearly contaminated, and we are reminding everyone, including recreational users, to exercise extreme caution when deciding to consume street drugs,” Const. Doucette stated.
Seven people, ranging in age from 25 to 42 years old, were taken to hospital for further medical assessment.
In addition, current provincial health orders, which remain in effect until December 7, restrict British Columbians to socializing only with immediate household members.
Previously, Surrey RCMP had also issued a warning that on November 18, they had responded to three separate sudden deaths believed to be caused by drug overdoses within a 12-hour period.
On November 19, officers arrested a 19-year-old male for possession for the purpose of trafficking. They seized suspected blue and purple fentanyl that is believed to be linked to the fatal overdoses.
On November 25, the B.C. Coroners Service revealed that there were 162 illicit-drug toxicity deaths in October across B.C. In addition, there have been 1,386 fatal overdoses in the first 10 months of the year in B.C., compared to 982 for all of 2019.
Health officials, including B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, have warned that several factors are contributing to increased fatal overdoses during the COVID-19 pandemic, including closed borders disrupting illegal drug supply chains (leading to more toxic drugs being made locally), individuals using drugs while spending more time alone due to social distancing, and other changes in response to COVID-19 health measures.