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Overdoses in Belleville Area Reach Record High in May

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties (18/06/2020) – Further to the media release issued on March 23, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) has continued to see an increase in opioid overdoses over the past two months. Emergency Department overdose events in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties reached a record high of 22 in May, and 19 in April. In addition, Belleville Police Services and Hastings-Quinte Paramedic Services have also reported responding to an increase in calls related to overdose events. Neighbouring health units are also experiencing similar worrisome trends.

HPEPH understands that the COVID-19 pandemic and associated stresses are difficult for many individuals and may lead to an increase in substance use. Those who use drugs are urged to engage in harm reduction efforts to avoid overdose. Steps to reduce harms related to drugs include:

  • having a naloxone kit
  • never using alone
  • avoid mixing drugs or using drugs and alcohol at the same time
  • using a small test dose first

Another option is to call into the Overdose Prevention Line Monday to Friday 10am to 10pm and Saturday to Sunday 10am to midnight at 1-888-853-8542. The operator will ask for the caller’s location and stay on the phone line while the caller uses drugs. In the event that they receive no response after administration of narcotics, the operator will call 911 and alert them to a possible overdose at the location provided by the caller.

Naloxone and harm reduction supplies continue to be available during regular office hours at Belleville, Bancroft, and Trenton HPEPH locations for contact-free pickup. “We recognize that this is a very challenging time for our community” says Dr. Caturay, Acting Medical Officer of Health at HPEPH. “We know that some people may use drugs or alcohol as a way to cope and we want to ensure that everyone who is struggling has the information they need to reduce potential harm. In addition to regular harm reduction practises, those who use drugs are reminded to take additional precautions to reduce the risk of COVID-19 during the pandemic. This includes maintaining physical distance practises, frequent hand washing, and avoiding shared equipment”.

If you struggle with use of drugs or alcohol, you are not alone. If you are looking for help to manage or stop your substance use, review the Getting Help section of the HPEPH website, which identifies free and confidential community resources that are available to assist you. For additional information regarding safer drug use and overdose prevention, visit our Safer Drug Use web page.


Media Contact:
Emily Tubbs, Communications Specialist

Veronica Montgomery, Foundational Standards Manager

About Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is a public health agency that serves the counties of Hastings and Prince Edward from four local offices. We monitor the health of our local population, deliver programs and services within our communities, and help develop healthy public policies. We provide information and support in many areas to help improve the health and well-being of our residents. Together with our communities, we help people become as healthy as they can be. For more information, please visit You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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We are gradually resuming in-person services at HPEPH by appointment only at this time.  Please review our Service Interruptions page for more information.

All program lines and the COVID-19 information line operate Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm (excluding statutory holidays).

To assist us with our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, we ask anyone visiting the office for an appointment to:

  • bring a non-medical mask, physical distancing may not be possible during your appointment
  • maintain physical distance of at least 2 metres, both inside and outside the office
  • review symptoms of COVID-19, and reschedule your appointment if you have symptoms of the virus, or any other illness
  • reschedule your appointment if a family member or other close contact is ill
  • use accessible buttons to open doors, instead of handles
  • use hand sanitizer when entering and exiting the building

We have made additional changes to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you are visiting our office for an appointment, you can be confident that we are:

  • increasing our cleaning, in alignment with heightened infection control protocols
  • considering alternatives to in-person appointments and meetings when possible
  • screening staff and visitors for symptoms of COVID-19
  • offering in-person services by appointment only to reduce traffic in office
  • ensuring staff wear masks and/or other protective equipment when seeing clients

Please continue to our website for more information about our programs and services.