SUDBURY -- The rapid spread of COVID-19 has sparked concern in communities around the world.

Many have taken to social media to voice their concerns, while others are fleeing to the grocery stores to stock up on supplies. However, a northern Ontario psychologist is advising people to continue on as normal and not let fear completely take over.

Michel Lariviere, a clinical psychologist and professor at Laurentian University, says he has seen a rise in anxiety in Sudbury since the first case was confirmed in the city. He says the best thing that people can do right now, is try to keep calm.

"People in general just don't like uncertainty. When we're uncertain about things a few things tend to happen. And one of those things is we can start to feel a bit panicky," Lariviere said. "When we get a bit panicky, our ability to problem solve might decrease."

He adds that people should try to stick to their normal routine as much as possible, whether that be walking on the treadmill, cooking or just their regular activities during daily living.

"All of us need to feel like there is something normal and predictable in our lives and sometimes it's the little things that we do that allow that."

Lariviere says people should avoid completely isolating themselves during this time because of the mental health impacts it can have. He says this advice is good for everyone, but especially the most vulnerable.

"Distancing them too much from loved ones will be really hard on them. And arguably, they may even find a slower recovery rate in the absence of support," he says. "I think it's important to continue to maintain those important relationships in our lives while heeding the recommendations from our medical experts."

A few Sudbury shoppers told CTV News on Friday they are feeling a bit anxious over the situation.

"My grandma has a cyst in her lungs, she has lung disease and I'm worried if she gets it that she could possibly die and she won't recover from it," said a young man.

"We also have a family member who is battling lung cancer right now, who we would be pretty concerned about," said his mom.

"I am worried about it, yes. I try to stay away from the public. You know, places with a lot of people, a lot of breathing and colds," said one man.

Lariviere says anxiety is the biggest mental health concern right now when it comes to the general public and COVID-19.