Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a novel coronavirus infection which broke out in Hong Kong in March 2003. Princess Margaret Hospital was designated to manage this new, mysterious and serious disease. Healthcare workers had to work under extremely stressful and often risky conditions to care for patients. Despite manpower and equipment reinforcements, staff infection occurred as a result of bodily exhaustion, working in an unfamiliar environment and lapses in infection control. Patients suffered even more, not only due to physical discomfort, but also because of the fear of isolation and death away from family and friends. Health authorities learnt their lessons in the outbreak and formulated emergency plans for future infectious disease epidemics. The healthcare infrastructure has been examined and upgraded with regard to intensive care capacity, infection control measures, professional training, manpower deployment, staff facilities, and stockpiling of drugs and personal protective equipment.