The citizens of the Chinese city where the Covid-19 crisis began have been celebrating the end of the dark days with lockdown over.
Wuhan resident Tong Zhengkun was one of millions of people enjoying a renewed sense of freedom after two months indoors on Wednesday when the restrictions were lifted.
“I haven’t been outside for more than 70 days,” an emotional Mr Tong said as he watched a celebratory light display from a bridge across the broad Yangtze River flowing through the city.
“Being indoors for so long drove me crazy.”
Streets in the city of 11 million people were clogged with traffic and long queues formed at the airport, railway and bus stations as thousands streamed out of the city to return to homes and jobs elsewhere.
Yellow barriers that had blocked off some streets were gone, although the gates to residential compounds remained guarded.
Mr Tong said his apartment complex was shut down after residents were found to have contracted the virus.
Neighbourhood workers delivered groceries to his door.
Such measures will not be entirely abandoned following the end of the city’s closure, which began on January 23 as the virus was raging through the city and overwhelming hospitals.
Schools are still closed, temperatures are checked when people enter buildings and masks are strongly encouraged.
City leaders say they want is to simultaneously bring back social and commercial life while avoiding a second wave of infections.
The ability to travel again is a huge relief, however, and around 65,000 were expected to depart on Wednesday by plane and train.
Wuhan residents are now permitted to leave without special authorisation as long as a mandatory smartphone application powered by a mix of data-tracking and government surveillance shows they are healthy and have not been in recent contact with anyone confirmed to have the virus.
It did not take long for traffic to begin moving swiftly through the reopened bridges, tunnels and highway toll booths.
Nearly 1,000 vehicles went through a busy highway toll booth at Wuhan’s border between midnight, when barricades were lifted, and 7am, according to Yan Xiangsheng, a district police chief.
According to airport official Lou Guowei, the first departing flight, MU2527, left Wuhan Tianhe International Airport for Sanya, a coastal city in Hainan province known for its beaches.
“We were too excited to fall asleep last night. I was looking forward to lockdown lift very much.
“I set up an alert to remind myself. I was very happy,” said Ms Xiao, who was waiting for her train outside Hankou station with her son and husband, all three of them wearing masks and gloves.
“We are living in a good era,” Ms Chen said.
“It is not easy to have today’s achievement.”
Restrictions in the city where most of China’s more than 82,000 virus cases and over 3,300 deaths from Covid-19 were reported have been gradually eased as the number of new cases steadily declined.
The government reported no new cases in the city on Wednesday.
While there are questions about the veracity of China’s count, the unprecedented lockdown of Wuhan and Hubei have been successful enough that other countries adopted similar measures.
“The people in Wuhan paid out a lot and bore a lot mentally and psychologically,” resident Zhang Xiang said.