New COVID-19 rules limit social visits but drug users should not use alone

A headshot of Globe and Mail's health reporter Andrea Woo.
Globe and Mail's health reporter Andrea Woo. Handout photo.
Laurence Gatinel - CFRO - VancouverBC | 09-11-2020
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By David P. Ball

Globe & Mail health journalist Andrea Woo explains what we know about confusing new health orders, and why experts still encourage people to have a buddy and use safe consumption sites.

People who use drugs should continue consuming with a buddy or at an overdose prevention site, says a Globe and Mail health reporter who covers both the overdose and pandemic emergencies.

Andrea Woo told The Pulse on CFRO there is still confusion around this weekend’s ramped up new COVID-19 rules in the Metro Vancouver region.

The new health orders, which last until Nov. 23, ban private or public gatherings of any sort even in people’s homes as new coronavirus cases surge to four times their rate at the first peak of the pandemic in March.

But for residents of the Downtown Eastside in particular, and people anywhere who use drugs, the highest health risk to life remains the poisoned drug supply, Woo explained. So many health officials and experts have said the guidance to never use drugs alone should be paramount — regardless of the new rules.

But in other situations, the skyrocketing COVID-19 cases saw the province ban private visitors to homes and urged people to be with their own household only. Single people who live alone can have one or two friends for support but should limit social interactions substantially, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Saturday. And people should avoid travel or visitors from outside the Vancouver Coastal Health region and Fraser Health.