Fentanyl test strips are designed to work in seconds and give a person a negative or positive sign that fentanyl is present in a substance. It also works with other analogues such as carfentanil. (Photo: ASHLEY WADHWANI)

Fentanyl test strips are designed to work in seconds and give a person a negative or positive sign that fentanyl is present in a substance. It also works with other analogues such as carfentanil. (Photo: ASHLEY WADHWANI)

21 people died of overdoses in Surrey in October

Provincewide, more than five people died a day from overdoses

Twenty-one people in Surrey lost their lives due to drug overdoses last month.

Throughout B.C., there were 162 illicit drug deaths in October, according to the latest data released by the BC Coroners Service Wednesday (Nov. 25). That’s about five deaths per day provincewide.

READ ALSO: Drug overdoses lead to 5 deaths each day in October; drug toxicity continues to increase, Nov. 25, 2020

“This is the fifth month this year with more than 160 suspected illicit drug deaths reported to the BC Coroners Service and more than double the number of people who died as a result of a toxic drug supply in October 2019,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner.

The 21 fatal overdoses brings Surrey’s total to 167 so far for 2020. This is compared to the nine deaths in Surrey in October of 2019.

That’s up from the 13 fatalities in September and the 17 in August.

Between January and August this year, Surrey surpassed the total number of deaths in 2019, which was 119. That was down for the 214 deaths in 2018.

READ ALSO: Surrey’s overdose death toll this year already exceeds 2019 total, Sept. 24, 2020

Surrey’s total fatal overdoses are only surpassed by Vancouver, which has seen 329 in the last 10 months.

Surrey, Vancouver and Victoria are the three municipalities in the province experiencing the highest number of illicit drug toxicity deaths in 2020.

In 2019, 981 people died – a majority, or due to illicit fentanyl, a powerful street-level opioid.

Provincewide, there have been 1,386 overdose deaths this year.

Lapointe said B.C. is continuing to see “record-breaking numbers of people dying” due to “an unsafe drug supply in our province, and it’s taking a toll on families and communities in this dual health emergency.”

“Challenges during COVID-19, such as access to key harm-reduction services and the toxic drug supply, including the extreme concentration of illicit fentanyl, are resulting in continuing significant and tragic loss of life across the province. Our hearts go out to those grieving the loss of family members, friends and colleagues.”

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lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

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