KINGSTON, ONT. -- Police and health officials in Lennox and Addington say recent overdoses are highlighting a troubling trend in eastern Ontario.

Kingston, Frontenac Lennox and Addington Public Health and Hastings Prince Edward Public Health are warning that the increase in overdoses and deaths is linked to a toxic batch of fentanyl making the rounds in areas like Belleville, Kingston and Napanee.

“We’re probably having one person die, sadly, every three weeks,” says Kingston’s medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore. “And that’s been all year long.”

Deputy Chief of Frontenac Paramedics Marc Goudie says that they’re finding many varieties of the drug.

“We’ve seen purple or a blueish type fentanyl out there,” he says. “It can come in a number of colours. It changes quite often.”

Experts warn that it can be up to 100 times more potent than morphine.

“They're often laced with other sedative drugs, Valium-like drugs,” says Dr. Moore. “That toxic combination has been shown to be absolutely deadly.”

Prince Edward County health officials say, since the start of the month, at least 18 drug overdoses have been identified and three people have died.

The issue is especially concerning during the pandemic.

“The mental stresses of living in a pandemic can be leading more individuals to be using drugs in our community,” says Dr. Moore. “But, it’s also just the toxic nature of what’s being sold on our streets.”

“Don’t use alone, do small amounts to test what you are using, access safe supply services,” says Goudie.

Health officials are encouraging anyone who may be affected to pick up a free Naloxone kit. Anyone who suspects or witnesses an overdose should call 911. 

Free kits are available at the following locations:

• KFL&A Public Health (Kingston office): Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

• Street Health Centre: Monday to Sunday 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 4 p.m.

• HIV/AIDS Regional Services: Monday to Thursday 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 4:30 p.m.

• Integrated Care Hub: Open seven days per week, 23 hours per day (closed daily from 10 to 11 a.m.)

• Napanee and Area Community Health Centre: Monday to Friday 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m.

• St. Vincent de Paul Society of Kingston: Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

• Martha’s Table: Monday to Sunday 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

• Home Base Housing Street Outreach Team: Monday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

• Change Health Care: Monday to Friday 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday to Sunday 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.