I was around back then and remember being bemused by the sudden obsession with wearing surgical masks. They were in short supply in the early going and then widely available for sale everywhere. I opted not to wear them after hearing from experts that hand hygiene was key, whereas the masks are largely useless in preventing contraction of SARS. I got some grief for this and a few people told me that I was being irresponsible. Later on, someone who sat near me in the office contracted SARS and we were told by health department officers to observe two weeks of home quarantine. I remember at the briefing that a number of people started weeping, even though they had no interaction with the person (it was more out of self-concern). After two boring weeks, I returned to work to find that I was the only one who had actually remained at home.
The current situation is very familiar. The fixation on masks, extreme hypochondria. I see people wearing masks during TV talk show interviews. The supermarket run and sold-out rice strikes me as nuts.