'Extremely high' overdose numbers in Windsor-Essex prompt alert

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A high number of fentanyl overdoses in Windsor-Essex in recent days has prompted an alert from local public health officials.

There were 22 emergency room visits involving fentanyl between Jan. 27 and Feb 3, and of those,16 were overdoses.

"Based on our comparisons to previous years for this week, these numbers are extremely high and warrant a community alert," the warning issued Friday from the Windsor-Essex Community Opioid and Substance Strategy states.

Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health with the Windsor-Essex County Health unit (WECHU), said people are encouraged to come forward with any information that could help prevent more overdoses.

Those who use drugs should take appropriate precautions, such as carrying the overdose-reversing drug naloxone, and seek help for substance use, he said at a media briefing on Friday.

"If you know someone who needs support please [check on them] as more and more people living in this pandemic can be in a stressful situation and may resort to using substances ... in higher quantities," he said.

According to WECHU, there were 249 opioid-related emergency room visits in 2019, and 47 people died of opioid overdoses.

Plans for injection site in the works

Theresa Marenette, CEO of the health unit, said the search for a location for a supervised injection site in downtown Windsor is moving ahead.

The health unit had previously sought interest from building owners but is now attempting to find a site on its own.

"It's not moving as quickly as we'd like but it is moving forward," she said.