According to a statement from the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use, the declaration made on March 17 of a public health emergency related to COVID-19 in British Columbia means that the province is facing two concurrent crises: one, the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus and another, the ongoing opioid overdose crisis.
The overlap of the two public health crises is important for people of B.C. to be aware of and be informed about, as the fight against COVID-19 is wrought with difficult challenges for those people who use substances.
We know that COVID-19 is a virus that can cause respiratory infection and other health problems. Fentanyl and other opioids can slow one’s breathing rate, so COVID-19 may increase the risk of overdose death when using opioids. People who use drugs may have compromised immune systems and therefore may be more vulnerable to infections and other health risks.