Closeup of a package of fentanyl seized by Alberta authorities. (Photo: Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team)The emergency declaration made in April allows health officers to collect information in real time to identify patterns and respond with preventative measures by targeting certain areas and groups of people. The step reduces the lag of waiting for data from the coroner's office. But the number of deaths has continued to grow, despite increased outreach initiatives, aggressive awareness campaigns and the rapid distribution of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone.
B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake speaks during a news conference after a meeting of provincial and territorial health ministers in Vancouver on Jan. 20, 2016."With the declaration of the public-health emergency, with increased availability of naloxone (and) with the increased number of first responders available to administer it, I'm hopeful that this month we'll start to see those numbers come down," said Lake. "But it really is something that we have to continue to talk about, to make sure people are very aware."
B.C.'s medical health officer Perry Kendall said he wasn't surprised by the update. "(Overdose deaths) haven't gone down yet, but I didn't really think that they would have," he said on Thursday. "This obviously means we need to work on them." Kendall predicted last month that if the number of fatalities continued to rise at this rate, the total could exceed 800 by year's end. The Fraser Valley region leads the province with a total of 76 overdose deaths in the first four months of 2016. That's followed by 66 deaths in Metro Vancouver and 54 on Vancouver Island. There have been 45 overdose fatalities in the Interior and 15 in Northern B.C. — By Geordon Omand in Vancouver, follow @gwomand on Twitter
“(Overdose deaths) haven't gone down yet, but I didn't really think that they would have.”
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