BARRIE -- With more than 5000 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, including two in Toronto, fear of the virus spreading north is hitting York Region.

“Naturally, there's a lot of concern right now about this virus, but we've actually been preparing for this for years. In fact, we never stopped preparing for this,” emergency and disaster preparedness manager Stephen Trafford said.

Hospitals are standing by, and schools are warning of incidents of discrimination and xenophobia.

“Our message is all of our students are welcome,” York Region District School Board director of education Louise Sirisko said.

Sirisko’s message is in response to an online petition with nearly 9400 signatures.

The petition is calling on the school board to stop the potential spread of the virus, asking students whose family members have recently travelled to China to stay home in self-quarantine for 17 days.

“All our students are welcome, our international students and our families travelling to and from different countries in the world. The risk to our classrooms is very, very low, Sirisko added.

Many people were out in Newmarket Tuesday, in masks, and pharmacists say they've had a tough time keeping the products in stock, though public health officials warn the masks likely won't stop the virus from spreading.

Health officials are reminding concerned residents to wash and sanitize their hands and avoid work or school when sick.

“Hospitals across the province have infection control programs that are solid, that are based on evidence-based guidelines. We follow them, and that's how we're going to keep everybody safe,” infection prevention and control manager Brigette Boaretto said.