Following two months of frustration, despair and economic loss, Shanghai's draconian COVID-19 lockdown ended Wednesday, prompting celebrations tempered with fear that an outbreak could return.

Most of Shanghai's 25 million residents can now freely leave home, return to work, use public transport and drive their cars — a moment that for many in China's largest and most cosmopolitan city felt like it would never arrive.

At midnight, small groups gathered in the city's former French Concession neighborhood whistled, shouted "ban lifted" and clinked glasses of champagne.