Parents and municipal workers are on high alert in Port Coquitlam, B.C. after a child was pricked by a used hypodermic needle buried in the gravel at a local playground.
The child’s skin was punctured during a daycare trip to Fox Park on Wednesday. Fraser Health officials said the child received medical attention. The health authority noted that The Early Learning Centre staff checked the park before arriving with the children, and did not find any needles.
Fraser Health said the daycare followed procedures and handled the situation appropriately.
Despite daily sweeps by city staff, the park continues to have issues with drug paraphernalia. CTV Vancouver quickly discovered a glass tube commonly used to smoke crack cocaine while inspecting the area hours after a sweep.
The province’s opioid epidemic has led to a surge of used needles and other drug paraphernalia littering public spaces. Port Coquitlam City Coun. Glenn Pollock said municipal workers are ramping up efforts across the city to restore confidence that the parks are a safe place for children.
“I have four grandchildren and it horrifies me, the thought of a child being pricked with one of those needles,” Pollock told CTV Vancouver.
He said workers are now using hard rakes to sweep through the gravel at all of the city’s parks to make sure nothing is hiding beneath the surface.
While the incident has left parents on edge, health experts say the risk of disease from this type of skin puncture is low.
“It’s vanishingly low. In fact, there are no reported cases of transmission of HIV or Hepatitis C or any other disease from a needle-stick in the community,” said Fraser Health Medical Officer Dr. Ingrid Tyler.
B.C. Health Minister Judy Darcy said the child’s injury underscores the need for more resources for needle disposal and harm reduction.
“That’s all the more reason why we need to have a big focus on harm reduction and to support people living with addictions in this overdose crisis,” she said.
Author: Jeff Lagerquist