'Extreme alert': 16 opioid overdoses in a week in Windsor-Essex

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There have been 16 opioid overdoses in Windsor-Essex between April 26 and May 2. (CBC - image credit)
There have been 16 opioid overdoses in Windsor-Essex between April 26 and May 2. (CBC - image credit)

For the second time in less than a week, the public health authority in Windsor-Essex is warning about a high number of opioid overdoses.

According to an opioid-overdose alert issued on Wednesday, there were eight overdoses recorded in the three-day period between April 30 and May 2.

The overdoses occurred primarily in Windsor, according to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, and seven out of the eight involved use of the highly powered opiate fentanyl.

The health unit also issued an alert about overdoses on Saturday, saying there had been eight overdoses between April 26 and April 29.

In total, there were 16 overdoses in between April 26 and May 2. Additionally, there were 10 EMS overdose notifications flagged by the monitoring system.

"Compared to historical weekly comparisons for the same time period, these indicators surpass our threshold levels for an extreme alert," the statement said.

The statement said that partners involved in the Windsor-Essex Community Overdose and Substance Strategy (WECOSS), are monitoring the increase and working to understand more about the cases reported.

So far this year, WECOSS has issued seven alerts about spikes in overdoses.

Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health for Windsor and Essex County, said Wednesday that the pandemic is affecting those with substance use and mental health problems more severely than others.

"These high rates of overdoses [are] ringing alarm in our community and we want to make sure that all the agencies that are working with this population are aware and are creating that awareness, distributing naloxone kits, ensuring that all the proper education is provided to them," he said at the WECHU daily briefing on Wednesday.