Overdose prevetion and safe injection sites in B.C. are taking extra precautions like using enhanced cleaning measures and mobile sites to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and ensure people are safe. (Black Press Media file photo)

Overdose prevention, safe injection sites take extra precautions to mitigate COVID-19

Enhanced cleaning protocol, changes in service delivery at sites

Extra precautions are being taken by overdose prevention and supervised consumption service providers in B.C., as required by the provincial health officer, to ensure the impacts of COVID-19 are mitigated.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, these extra precautions include enhanced cleaning procedures and, in some cases, making changes in service delivery to accommodate the need for social distancing.

Some overdose prevention service providers have moved to a mobile model in order to meet clients where they are and ensure they have the harm reduction and sanitation supplies they need.

“As this situation is changing so rapidly, people are advised to contact their local overdose prevention services site to find out the latest information regarding any changes in service,” the statement says.

The ministry is encouraging B.C. residents to do what they can to stay connected to others while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) says creative solutions are needed to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect people who use drugs, have underlying health conditions, or may be elderly. The novel coronavirus can cause a respiratory infection and other health problems, and fentanyl and other opioids can slow a person’s breathing rate. COVID-19 may increase the risk of overdose death when using opioids.

To practice safer drug use during this time, the BCCDC recommends people do not share items such as cigarettes, joints, pipes, injecting equipment, containers for alcohol, utensils and other supplies. If sharing is necessary, the centre advises wiping pipes with alcohol wipes or using new mouthpieces.

Reducing close contact and the use of condoms should be ensured, and hands should be washed before preparing, handling or using drugs. Surfaces should also be cleaned before preparing drugs, if possible.

Naloxone, as well as an overdose plan, should be carried and the centre asks that people use breathing masks – available in the take-home naloxone kits – if responding to an overdose.

While drug users are advised to buddy up, the BCCDC recommends staying two metres apart to avoid passing the virus. Checking in on buddies regularly is important, as well as finding someone who can bring food, harm reduction supplies, medicine and substances to stay well.

Drug users have a potential of going through involuntary withdrawal if their dealer gets sick, the BCCDC says, so having backup plans and being cautious if using a new supply is recommended.

The BCCDC does not anticipate supply chain disruptions and advises registered safe consumption sites to continue to order supplies as needed weekly or monthly to avoid stockpiling.

“Please continue to distribute supplies as usual, and note that if there is a specific request for supplies for an individual who requires quarantine or isolation, additional supplies may be provided for the 14-day period,” the BCCDC says.

shalu.mehta@blackpress.ca


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Large item collection events cancelled in Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen

Concerns about spread of COVID-19 led to decision to cancel collection events

Okanagan real estate market stable; bracing for slowdown due to COVID-19

Real estate board projects slowdown as the economic impacts of the pandemic continue to develop

Salmon Arm lawyer describes inmate’s positive COVID-19 test as ‘a huge problem’

Virus in the confined space of Okanagan Correctional Centre may be difficult to contain

Penticton bylaw officers receive 12 reports of COVID-19 order violations in five days

Bylaw says they received reports of four different types of infractions in a five day span

Penticton RCMP seek suspect in ‘bold’ Martin Street robbery

Officers following numerous leads and hope to have suspect in custody soon

VIDEO: ‘Used gloves and masks go in the garbage,’ says irked B.C. mayor

Health officials have said single-use gloves won’t do much to curb the spread of COVID-19

Emergency services respond to numerous incidents on Highway 1

Today there were multiple semi truck crashes on Highway 1 and a collision by the hospital

COVID-19: postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Black Press Media ad sparks discussion about value of community newspapers

White Rock resident hopes front-page note shines light on revenue loss during COVID-19 crisis

COVID-19: Central Okanagan fire departments only responding to serious medical calls

The new directive from Dr. Bonnie Henry does not change the public safety response of firefighters

Okanagan business produces plexiglass barriers with a cause

Mouldings and More is donating barrier proceeds to local food banks

53 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., four new deaths

B.C. has 498 active confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus

Organizers hoping to hold Summerland Fall Fair

COVID-19 pandemic may result in changes to agricultural celebration

Bighorn sheep wander through the Okanagan

Local wildlife sighting refreshing amid COVID-19 pandemic

Most Read