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Rush to leave Wuhan: Thousands depart as travel restrictions end

People enter Wuhan airport on Wednesday, April 8, 2020 as the outbound travel restrictions in the city were lifted.
People enter Wuhan airport on Wednesday, April 8, 2020 as the outbound travel restrictions in the city were lifted. © Reuters / France 24

At airports, railway stations and on the roads, people in Wuhan, China flocked to leave the city on Wednesday as outbound travel restrictions were lifted, 76 days after the city was placed under lockdown amid the coronavirus outbreak.

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Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak first appeared, was sealed off by China on January 23 and since then few have been permitted to enter or leave.

But as the city celebrated with a spectacular light show, the travel restrictions were finally lifted at midnight Wednesday.

For some, it was a chance to visit friends and family not seen in months.

"I haven't been out since January 21. This is the first time I left the house today. Now I'm going back home to meet my parents,” said Wang, as she waited for a plane at the city’s airport.

“Don't speak to me anymore. I'll start to cry if you say more. Because it happened so suddenly, I didn't know I'd be stuck here for so long."

For others, it meant finally being able to go home.

“I came back before [Lunar] New Year and planned to stay a few days then go to Guangzhou,” said Chen, a train passenger.

“Then it wasn’t even two days and it was announced Wuhan would be locked down and I couldn’t leave. So I’ve been stuck here the whole time."

An estimated 55,000 were set to leave the city on Wednesday alone, according to officials.

But tight controls remain in place amid fears of a second wave of the outbreak.

Travelers must present a green ‘health code', showing they have been given a clean bill of health, and undergo temperature checks before they are permitted to leave.

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