Emergency crews tended to an overdosed patient in downtown Kamloops in November. KTW file photo

Overdose deaths down 30% so far in 2019, B.C. officials ‘cautiously optimistic’

In May, 84 lives were claimed by illicit drugs, or between two and three deaths each day

The number of fatal drug overdoses across the province is down 30 per cent in the first five months of the year – a sign for cautious optimism, the BC Coroner Service says.

There were 462 overdose deaths between January and May, all caused by the illicit drug supply, according to stats released Thursday by the coroner. That’s compared to 651 deaths that occurred over the same time period in 2018, when B.C. saw a record-breaking number drug fatalities.

READ MORE: B.C. opioid overdoses still killing four people a day, health officials say

In May, 84 lives were claimed by illicit drugs, or between two and three deaths each day. Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria remain the cities seeing the highest number of deaths.

READ MORE: First Nation chiefs call for B.C. to declare state of emergency over opioid crisis

While the number of deaths during those five months is likely to increase as post-mortem test results are received, the coroners service said it’s a sign that the death toll may be plateauing.

There are still concerning trends, however. Carfentanil, a tranquilizer used for elephants and other large animals, has been found in 102 fentanyl-detected deaths this year, compared to 35 such deaths in 2018.

Roughly nine in every 10 overdose deaths are still occurring indoors, including more than half in private homes.

Overdose deaths by city
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