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‘Mysterious’ fentanyl poisoning sparks Vancouver police investigation

Non-drug user collapsed on the street after a brief encounter with a stranger
An evidence bag holds pills containing fentanyl at the Juneau Police Station. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Police in Vancouver say they’re investigating how a man mysteriously fell ill from fentanyl poisoning following a brief encounter with a stranger last week.

They say in a statement that investigators are focused on how the 56-year-old man, who does not use drugs, was exposed to the powerful opioid, and whether the incident involved a criminal offence.

Police say the man was walking in the city’s Chinatown neighbourhood around 9 p.m. on Nov. 22, and had a brief encounter with someone before collapsing.

They say paramedics administered the overdose-reversing drug naloxone and the man was taken to hospital for treatment of fentanyl poisoning.

Police say the man who speaks only Cantonese has since recovered, while investigators have identified the stranger he had the interaction with.

A statement from Const. Tania Visintin says police are working with the man, his family, and medical professionals to understand how the drug entered his system, and they have not ruled out the possibility that he was intentionally exposed.

“We have heard from community members who are troubled by this incident. We want everyone to know that we’re working hard to find out what happened.”

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