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A flight to Sydney and thousands travelling: What's happened in Wuhan since lockdown was lifted.

After 76 days in complete lockdown, the Chinese city of Wuhan where COVID-19 first started in December 2019 has reopened.

11 million people, who have been trapped in the city since late January, are now free to leave for the first time, with the moment marked by the counting down of a clock in the city’s centre.

At the stroke of midnight, the skyline was lit up with festive colours and images to symbolise the city’s victory over the virus, which is now sending other countries around the world into quarantine.

But for many in Wuhan there is little to celebrate, with the psychological trauma of what they’ve just endured likely to last for a long while to come.

WATCH: The countdown in Wuhan as the city is reopened. Post continues after video.

Video via Twitter

More than 50,000 people in Wuhan contracted coronavirus, with more than 2,500 dying – equating to 80 per cent of the deaths in China according to official figures.

Since then, the virus has become a global pandemic infecting more than 1.4 million and killing 82,000 worldwide, including 50 in Australia as our country prepares to spend another weekend locked inside our houses.

The current COVID-19 figures.

Restrictions have been gradually easing in Wuhan over the last 10 days, as the capital of Hubei province reported just three new confirmed infections in 21 days and only two in the last fortnight.

But as an estimated 65,000 people left Wuhan on the first day travel restrictions were lifted, there are fears the lockdown was ended too soon. Some health officials are nervous about a second wave of infections.

China Works to Contain Spread of Coronavirus
Chinese workers and health officials wear protective white suits as travellers from Wuhan gather to take buses. Image: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images.
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A Wuhan doctor specialising in pulmonary and critical care told NPR he estimates, based on recent survey data, there may be between 10,000 and 20,000 asymptomatic carriers in the city.

Despite the fears, long lines formed at the airport, train and bus stations as thousands streamed out of the city to return to their homes, families and jobs elsewhere.

Last night, a cargo plane arrived in Sydney direct from Wuhan - the first flight to Australia from the epicentre since January.

It was given special exemptions from Australia's strict travel restrictions, because it brought with it 90 tonnes of protective masks, gowns and ventilators - supplies crucially needed by our hospitals and healthcare workers.

"International crew are permitted to transit through Australia, but must remain in the port or airport, or self-isolate in accommodation for the duration of their transit," a Home Affairs spokesman told the ABC before it landed.

Wuhan Tianhe International Airport Reopens As Coronavirus Shutdown Ends
The first international commercial freight flight after Wuhan lockdown ended landed in Sydney last night full of medical supplies. Image: Ma Furong/China News Service via Getty Images.
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But while the crew who landed in Sydney told Daily Mail Australia life in Wuhan is "business as usual," according to many locals it is anything but.

“Wuhan can never go back to be what it was like before the outbreak. Neither can its residents. But we need to continue living alongside our traumas,” Guo Jing, a 29-year-old social worker, told Quartz.

The scenes the world saw coming out of the Chinese city earlier in the year - ones that are now being repeated in New York and Italy - were shocking, scary and heartbreaking.

Bodies lining hospital corridors, exhausted healthcare workers crying after pulling enormous shifts, and at one point families throwing their animals from their apartment high-rises, terrified they were infected by the virus.

Daliy Life In Wuhan As Coronavirus Cases Under Control
Residents line up to buy vegetables on March 31, 2020 in Wuhan as restrictions were loosened. Image: Getty Images.

Even though the restrictions have been lifted, some residents are still fearful of venturing outside.

English teacher Kuang Li said he planned to stay home until he was asked to return to work, telling Reuters he was "scared of the virus" and felt that being outdoors still wasn't safe.

For others it's not trauma they're facing, it's the discrimination.

"Now everyone in China is vigilant against Wuhan residents, fearing that we are virus carriers," Xiao Lu told Quartz.

Before lockdown was enforced on January 23, many Wuhan residents travelling in other parts of China found themselves no longer welcome at hotels and guesthouses - stranded as they were also unable to get back to their home city once the borders were closed.

 "There are too many comments online hurling abuse and denunciation at Wuhan people. I feel wronged," April Pin told CNN.

For others, there was just joy.

"Everyone's like out and about and everyone was just so, so happy.... I felt joy in the air," Megan Monroe told CBS.

As Wuhan starts to reawaken, China more broadly has reported a slight increase in new coronavirus cases for a second straight day, as the number of infections involving incoming overseas travellers hits a two-week high.

Authorities are still calling for continued vigilance in the country, with strict screening protocols in place for those now free to move around the country.

To protect yourself and the community from COVID-19, keep at least 1.5 metres away from other people, regularly wash your hands and avoid touching your face.

If you are sick and believe you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your GP ahead of time to book an appointment. Or call the national Coronavirus Health Information Line for advice on 1800 020 080. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 000. To keep up to date with the latest information, please visit the Department of Health website.

- With AAP.

Feature image: Getty.

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