Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall says the increase in heroin and related overdose deaths requires rapid reporting of cases.

B.C. declares fentanyl drug overdose emergency

Overdoses involving fentanyl now up to a third of cases, as synthetic drug mixed with heroin, cocaine and marijuana

The B.C. government has declared its first-ever public health emergency to deal with the sharply rising cases of opioid drug overdoses across the province.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall said the measure will allow for rapid collection of data from health authorities and the B.C. Coroners’ Service, so overdose treatment kits can be deployed to regions where there are new clusters of outbreaks.

Overdoses have been mainly clustered in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, but cases have increased in the Okanagan and Vancouver Island as well. Kendall said there is no area of the province unaffected, and that is why he is using the authority to declare an emergency for the first time in B.C. history.

There has been a steady increase in overdoses of drugs containing fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid made in Chinese drug labs and smuggled to Canada. It has been found mixed with heroin, cocaine and even marijuana sold on the streets in B.C.

There were 474 apparent illicit drug overdose deaths in B.C. in 2015, a 30 per cent increase over 2014.

Health Minister Terry Lake said kits containing an overdose treatment called naloxone have been made available to paramedics, firefighters and police, but the alarming rise in cases means more action is needed.

“We have to do what’s needed to prevent overdoses and deaths, and what’s needed is real-time information,” Lake said. “Medical health officers need immediate access to what’s happening and where so they can deploy the necessary strategies to prevent these tragedies.”

• In Fraser Health region, the BC Coroners Service recorded 29 fentanyl-related deaths in 2014, 49 in 2015 and 19 in the first three months of 2016.

• In the Metro Health region, there were 26 fentanyl-related deaths in 2014, 47 in 2015 and 18 in the first three months of 2016.

• In the Island health region, there were 17 fentanyl-related deaths in 2014, 22 in 2015 and nine in the first three months of 2016.

• In the Interior health region, there were nine fentanyl-related deaths in 2014, 21 in 2015 and 15 in the first three months of 2016.

• In the Northern health region, there were 10 fentanyl-related deaths in 2014, 14 in 2015 and three in the first three months of 2016.

Just Posted

Craft cannabis development planned for Castlegar

Plans are underway for one of the first craft cannabis industrial parks in the province.

Rossland council passes plastic bag ban despite legal questions

Appeal court ruling threw bylaw in limbo, but council voted to move forward

Abra Brynne wins Kootenay-Columbia Green Party nomination

Brynne is one of three candidates who will challenge MP Wayne Stetski

Police call Appledale death a homicide

But few other details being released

Fire engulfs car on weekend

No one injured in incident

VIDEO: B.C. MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first steps in nearly 30 years

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Report of dead body in B.C. park actually headless sex doll

This discovery, made at Manning Park on July 10, led police to uncovering two other sex mannequins

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Dog recovering after being drenched in hot coffee, B.C. man charged

Man was taken into custody, charged, and released pending a court date

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Science expedition to Canada’s largest underwater volcano departs Vancouver Island

Crews prepared for a two-week research mission to the Explorer Seamount

B.C. shipyard to get one-third of $1.5 billion frigate-repair contract

The federal government has promised to invest $7.5 billion to maintain the 12 frigates

Worried about bats? Here’s what to do if you come across one in B.C.

Bat expert with the BC Community Bat Program urges caution around the small creatures

B.C. on right road with tougher ride-hailing driver rules, says expert

The provincial government is holding firm that ride-hailing drivers have a Class 4 licence

Most Read