6 deaths, 41 suspected opioid overdoses reported in 1st week of February in Waterloo region
3 of the suspected overdose deaths happened within 16 hours
The Waterloo Region Integrated Drug Strategy is extending an overdose alert it issued last week after six more people died of suspected opioid overdose in the first week of February.
Three of the deaths took place between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, said Waterloo Regional Police Service Insp. Brenna Bonn. The others were on Feb. 1, 5 and 8.
In addition to the six people who died from suspected overdose since Feb. 1, regional police and paramedics have responded to 41 non-fatal suspected overdoses between Jan. 31 and Feb. 6.
That is why, said Bonn, the drug strategy team decided to extend the overdose alert it issued Feb. 3.
At the time, officials warned of purple fentanyl that had been found related to one of the suspected overdoses in the area of King Street N. in Waterloo. This time, Bonn said officers can't point to purple fentanyl as the reason behind the surge in suspected overdoses; it's just not that clear, she said.
"It's difficult for us at a scene, sometimes, to get product or to make those connections."
But, she said, when the drug strategy team heard of the three deaths overnight, they knew they needed to get the message out.
Joanna Han, coordinator of the drug strategy team and the Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre, said there has been a sustained high number of overdoses locally, 77 over the last two weeks.
Her team emphasized the drug supply might be stronger than usual right now, or contain substances that might cause "unexpected reactions." It recommended people not use drugs alone, carry naloxone and call 911 at the first sign of overdose.
It's also reminding people the consumption and treatment services site at 150 Duke St. W. in Kitchener is open during the current stay at home order and through provincial lockdown. It runs seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Bonn also recommended friends and families of those who use drugs to check in on them or give them a call.
"Maybe an extra check-in on them, 'Hey, how are you doing?' That sort of thing," said Bonn. "We owe it to the community, we owe it to each other."