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An ambulance arrives to help an overdose victim in Vancouver’s downtown eastside.Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

Illicit drug deaths were down in British Columbia in August from the same month last year but there were still an average of 2.5 people dying every day in the province.

The latest figures from the BC Coroners Service also say there were 690 illicit drug deaths in the first eight months of this year, a 33-per-cent decrease from the same period last year.

By local area, the highest rates of illicit drug deaths are in the small communities of Princeton, Grand Forks and Hope.

The service says the powerful opioid fentanyl was detected in more than 85 per cent of the deaths in both 2018 and 2019.

Males are still the overwhelming casualty and account for 77 per cent of all suspected illicit drug deaths this year.

The service advises those who are using illicit drugs to have them checked, to never use alone and to use at a supervised consumption or overdose prevention site if possible.

The B.C. government declared a health emergency in response to the overdose crisis in April 2016 and has taken numerous steps to try to stem the death toll.

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