Video report by ITV News Asia Correspondent Debi Edward
Citizens of the Chinese city where the coronavirus outbreak began have emerged following the end of a two-month lockdown.
Streets in Wuhan were clogged with traffic and long queues formed at the transport hubs as thousands streamed out of the city to return to homes and jobs elsewhere.
The epicentre of the virus started lifting outbound travel restrictions from Wednesday, as its 11 million residents emerged from their indoor isolation.
The city marked the moment with a midnight light show as a tribute to those working in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Across the Wuhan section of the Yangtze River, skyscrapers and seven bridges radiated with images of health workers, troops, police officers, and people in other professions that have held their posts in order to keep the city running in a difficult time.
Watching the moment, Wuhan resident Tong Zhengkun was one of millions of people enjoying a renewed sense of freedom after lockdown measures were lifted.
"I haven’t been outside for more than 70 days, being indoors for so long drove me crazy."
Xiao Yonghong had found herself stuck in Wuhan after returning to her hometown to spend the Lunar New Year with her husband, son and parents-in-law.
“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 Xiao, who was waiting for her train outside Hankou station with her son and husband, all three of them wearing masks and gloves.
Wuhan, the provincial capital of Hubei province, has been at the front line of China's battle against the coronavirus.
Since the lockdown was imposed 76 days ago on January 23, health workers from other regions across China had come to aid the city to overcome the outbreak.
As lockdown measures were lifted, yellow barriers that had blocked off some streets were gone, although the gates to residential compounds remained guarded and some restrictive measures remain in place.
Schools in the city are still closed, temperatures are checked when people enter buildings and masks are strongly encouraged.
Wuhan's 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.
ITV News Asia Correspondent Debi Edward reports from Wuhan as lockdown measures are lifted:
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.
Xiao Yonghong had found herself stuck in Wuhan after returning to her hometown on January 17 to spend the Lunar New Year with her husband, son and parents-in-law.
"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.
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 coronavirus 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.
During the lockdown, Wuhan residents could leave their homes only to buy food or attend to other tasks deemed absolutely necessary.
Some residents were allowed to leave the city, but only if they had paperwork showing they were not a health risk and a letter attesting to where they were going and why.
Even then, authorities could turn them back on a technicality such as missing a stamp - preventing thousands from returning to their jobs outside the city.
People leaving Wuhan still face numerous hurdles at their final destinations, such as 14-day quarantines and nucleic acid tests.
The exact source of the virus remains under investigation, though many of the first Covid-19 patients were linked to an outdoor food market in the city.