MONTREAL -- Amid the panic surrounding the spread of COVID-19 – with school boards across Montreal cancelling classes and major sports leagues postponing their seasons – people are flocking to the grocery stores to stock up on goods.

In the West Island and the south shore, several people stated the shelves were void of essentials like milk, bread, toilet paper and cleaning products, as well as dry and canned foods.

"Everyone is literally fighting for groceries and especially toilet paper. You grab a toilet paper and somebody else has a hand on the toilet paper -- they'll be looking at you like, that's mine too," one shopper told CTV News. 

But Premier Francois Legault has urged calm. He said there won't be food shortages. "Don't worry about getting food next week or the week after. Right now, all trucks are delivering goods and we don't expect any shortage," he explained.

COVID-19 grocery store

In certain emergency situations, experts note it can be useful to have a week or two's supply of food and water, as well as some medical supplies and any prescription drugs.

But it's not always necessary – or useful.

"It feeds our cognitive bias – an illusion of control. We are always under the impression that we are under control when we are responding to external forces," said Samuel Veissière, assistant professor at McGill University's department of psychiatry and co-director of the Culture, Mind and Brain Program.

"At the core, all humans like to hoard, so it's an attempt to create predictability and regain control."


The best way to protect yourself against any kind of virus is to practice basic hygiene.

This includes washing your hands, not touching your face, coughing and sneezing into your sleeves and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

COVID-19 grocery store

Experts also recommend immediately throwing out used tissues and regularly cleaning surfaces like toilets, doorknobs and smartphones.

As of Friday morning, there have been 17 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Quebec.

Anyone who believes they are showing symptoms of the virus, such as coughing, fever and difficulty breathing, are asked to call 811.

The province has also set up a hotline to answer any questions about coronavirus: 1 877 644 4545.