B.C. records 127 overdose deaths in September, down from sharp increase in June

VICTORIA — The BC Coroners Service says 127 people fatally overdosed on illicit drugs in September, up from 60 deaths during the same period last year.

It says an average of four people died every day in September, but the number of fatalities declined from 150 in August and is lower than the record number of 183 in June.

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The service says 70 per cent of the fatalities this year have been among those aged 30 to 59 and most of the dead have been men.

Fatal overdoses began declining in B.C. at the beginning of the year, with 79 fatalities recorded in January, but started rising in March as the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

An average of 179 people died of an overdose each month in May, June and July, raising alarms among health officials about the dual emergency of a pandemic and an overdose crisis.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued an order last month allowing registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses to prescribe safer drugs for those at risk of an overdose.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 20, 2020.

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