Surrey saw 32 illicit drug overdose deaths in the first three months of 2020, with nearly half of those in March, according to new data released by the BC Coroners Service Thursday (May 7).
According to the report, Surrey had nine deaths in January, eight in February and 15 in March. That’s compared to 10 in January 2019, 14 in February and 14 in March.
Surrey has had the second-highest number of overdose deaths so far in 2020, with Vancouver having the most at 60.
Fraser Health saw a 91-per-cent increase in deaths in March, the highest increase in the province.
So far this year, Fraser Health has had 86 overdose deaths. The next highest was Vancouver Coastal Health with 68 deaths.
In the province, there have been 260 deaths between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2020, with 113 of those deaths in March.
The coroners service said that exceeding 100 deaths in a month hasn’t happened since March 2019. However, the 113 deaths represent a three-per-cent decrease over the number of deaths in March 2019, which was 117.
But the 113 deaths in March 2020 is a 61-per-cent increase from the 70 deaths in February 2020.
Street-level fentanyl and similar analogues have been detected in 70 per cent of all deaths, discovered through autopsies. Carfentanil, a drug used to sedate elephants, was detected in two deaths in the first three months of the year.
– With files from Ashley Wadhwani