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In this illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The government has made plans to release urgent funds to the research community to study the spread of the novel coronavirus outbreak.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-CDC via AP, File

With more than 85,000 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus known as COVID-19 in 58 countries across the globe, health officials are preparing for the possibility that the virus could become a pandemic.

While only 20 cases have been confirmed in Canada so far, authorities have been urging Canadians to take precautions to make it more difficult for the disease to spread here.

Vancouver Island pharmacist Kris Verma said one way residents can prepare for the possibility of a coronavirus pandemic is by making a COVID-19 kit with essentials they may need in case they need to isolate themselves from others.

"Mostly it's just for prevention and for peace of mind," Verma said. "The biggest way to prevent the spread of the virus is to quarantine yourself. Stay away from others if you're having symptoms of illness."

Among the items Verma recommends having on hand are flu supplies - things like masks, hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies.

Having two weeks' worth of food and water, as well as any medication you already take, is also a good idea, he said.

At least one Victoria resident CTV News Vancouver Island spoke to said they had already gathered the materials for a COVID-19 kit.

Others were less worried. Barb Lawson, a nurse, said she's not taking extra precautions in anticipation of a coronavirus outbreak, because she believes she's well-prepared to avoid infection already.

"Proper hand hygiene and proper protocol for any kind of infectious disease is necessary at all times, so I feel like if people follow that throughout the year, then that's the smartest thing to do," Lawson said.