WUHAN, China (AP) — Some people couldn’t wait to leave town. Others just wanted to get outside and feel free again. All of them wore face masks against the virus that had forced them to stay in their homes for more than two months.
Chinese authorities ended the lockdown of Wuhan on Wednesday, allowing people to move about and leave the city for the first time in 76 days.
Thousands boarded trains, planes and long-distance buses, finally able to return to their homes and jobs. Many had come to visit relatives during the Lunar New Year holiday in late January and were trapped when the coronavirus lockdown was announced with no advance warning.
The outbreak started in Wuhan, an industrial city of 11 million people on the Yangtze River. Authorities cut off and shut down the city in a desperate bid to stop the disease from spreading. It still killed more than 2,500 people in Wuhan, by far the highest death toll in China, and grew into a pandemic.
Once the lockdown was lifted, drivers took to the roads again and people went to parks and public plazas. Residents who wanted to enter a building or board a train were still checked to see if they were running a fever, though. The fear has subsided but not gone away.