Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) has emerged as a new respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus and is associated with substantial morbidity and mortality [1, 2]. Dynamic mathematical models have suggested that SARS, if uncontrolled, would infect the majority of people wherever it was introduced [3–5]. The patterns of spread suggest droplet or contact transmission . Close proximity of persons enhances the risk of transmission, and this together with handling of human secretions (respiratory secretions, faeces, etc.) have made the hospital setting particularly vulnerable to the rapid spread of SARS.