SUDBURY -- A food chain supply expert says Canadians should not be worried about supplies of essential items amid the COVID-19 global pandemic, however, CTV News has learned that Sudbury warehouse store Costco ran out of toilet paper Wednesday afternoon.

This comes after Sudbury's first confirmed case of COVID-19 was announced.

Shopper Alex Lamothe says the store was extremely busy, but shoppers did not seem to be in a panic.

Lamothe says as he was entering the store, people were leaving with toilet paper, but when he got to the area where the various brands are displayed, he saw a sign that said: "We are currently sold out." The sign listed three different brands.

Coronavirus newsletter sign-up: Get The COVID-19 Brief sent to your inbox

Sylvain Charlebois is professor of food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University in Halifax. He says unlike a natural disaster, the spread of the coronavirus has happened over the course of several months, giving supply chains the chance to ramp up production and distribution strategies.

As well, consumers can buy items to build up provisions over the course of several weeks to prepare for a period of self-isolation or quarantine at home.

"There is a strong correlation between the number of cases found locally and panic buying. We are seeing a lot of panic buying out west right now with Alberta and B.C. And I suspect we’re going to see more of it in the east, Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic (provinces.)," said Charlebois.

Charlebois says regardless of a worldwide novel virus outbreak, people should always have a store of provisions to account for emergencies. But only about 25 per cent of households in Canada have even enough supplies to survive at home for three or four days.

He suggests stocking up on dry goods, such as canned soups, sauces, and pasta, dried proteins like nuts, beans and lentils, frozen fruits and vegetables, and water, just in case a problem arises with water systems.

With files from CTV Toronto's Meredith MacLeod.