Hastings and Prince Edward Counties / March 23, 2020 – 5:15 pm
Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) has recently been informed by Belleville Police Services of an increase in overdose related calls. Police have responded to five emergency overdose related incidents in the Belleville area since Monday, March 16, including two overdoses that resulted in death.
The anxiety induced by recent events related to the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to an increase in substance use for vulnerable individuals. During times of stress and uncertainty, Public Health urges people who use drugs to continue engaging in harm reduction efforts to avoid overdose. This includes having a naloxone kit, avoiding mixing drugs or using drugs with alcohol, using a small test dose first, and most importantly, not using alone.
People who use drugs should not use alone but should limit the number of people they use with, maintain 2 metres between each other, ensure proper hand washing, clean all surfaces where drugs are being prepared, and avoid sharing equipment. If you must use alone, another option is to call into the Overdose Prevention Line, Monday to Friday 10 am to 10 pm and weekends 10 am to midnight at 1-888-853-8542.
“Good infection control practises are more important than ever in this time of COVID-19,” says Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health and CEO for HPEPH. “Harm reduction supplies will continue to be available, but be aware of the increased risk of infection when using drugs or responding to an overdose”.
Information about safer drug use during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found on HPEPH’s Safer Drug Use web page. You can access Naloxone and Harm Reduction supplies at Hastings Prince Edward Public Health offices or check hpePublicHealth.ca for more locations. Supplies may be limited due to temporary closures.
Steph McFaul, Program Manager, Clinical Services
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 hpePublicHealth.ca. You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.