Residents were allowed to leave the central Chinese city of Wuhan on Wednesday for the first time in nearly three months. A 76-day lockdown on the city has been lifted, allowing people to travel in and out of the city where the global coronavirus outbreak originated. At the stroke of midnight, the city celebrated "liberation" from its lockdown and honored frontline workers in a light show, CBS News correspondent Ramy Inocencio reports.
Drivers sped off as highways re-opened. High-speed trains left just after dawn. And more than 10,000 people left the city by plane.
Cherry trees are now blossoming along city streets, and shoppers have returned to re-opened stores.
"Everyone's like out and about and everyone was just so, so happy. ... I felt joy in the air," said 21-year-old Megan Monroe, who has been in Wuhan since the lockdown started.
The scenes were a stark contrast from just days ago, when the city was under one of the largest lockdowns in history. When the city went into confinement in early January, emergency hospitals sprung up almost overnight and empty streets were the new normal. Those who disobeyed containment were beaten, hauled away or sealed in their homes by authorities.
On Wednesday, a riot broke out when the lockdown of Hubei Province was lifted over fears that people who are now leaving ground zero would reinfect others.
Epidemiologists like Ben Cowling warn that widespread travel out of Wuhan could mark the start of China's second wave.
"One of my concerns is that we're going to get into a nasty cycle of having to have repeated lockdowns maybe every two or three months because they'll be a resurgence in infections," he said.
People who are traveling are required to show they are healthy through an app.