What measures have been taken to protect the Downtown Eastside population since the outbreak? What more should be done?

“A critically important development is that the federal government gave the green light on providing a medically prescribed ‘safer supply’ of drugs. Championed by my colleagues at the BC Centre on Substance Use and a provincial working group of addiction medicine clinicians and people with lived experience, the province has announced new clinical guidelines to both stem the spread of COVID-19 and respond to the ongoing overdose emergency. These guidelines allow people to access alternatives to the toxic drug supply and even have them delivered, to reduce the likelihood of infection as well as risks associated with the toxic drug supply.

The Canadian Drug Policy Coalition has developed a resource hub to support people who use drugs and the service providers that work with them. There is also harm-reduction guidance from the BC Centre for Disease Control and drug user advocacy groups in the neighbourhood, such as suggesting ways to avoid contracting COVID-19 from drug use supplies, buddying up and making sure to have an overdose plan.”

UBC Associate Professor, Sociology

Read more of Dr. Richardson’s interview here “When crises collide: COVID-19 and overdose in the Downtown Eastside” via UBC Faculty of Arts. 

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