Amaravati: Coronavirus cases scaled new peaks in the month of May in Andhra Pradesh, setting new records on the way, but the slide started in the last week.

It took close to six months, during the first Covid-19 wave between March and September 2020, for AP to cross the five lakh-mark but a staggering 5.71 lakh positives were registered during May 2021 in the ongoing second wave.

May 2021 began with a caseload of 11.21 lakh infections and ended with a sum of 16,93,085 adding a lakh every five days till May 25, when again the decline started.

The state also saw a new high of 5.46 lakh recoveries and 2,877 deaths in the month, the health department data showed.

Between August 1 and 31 last year, during the first wave a total of 2.84 lakh coronavirus cases, 2.53 lakh recoveries and 2,562 fatalities were reported in the state.

The peak positivity rate then was 16.89 per cent but this May it climbed up to 25.56 per cent (on the 16th). A record number of 1.16 lakh samples were tested in a day (on May 5), a record 24,171 positives were registered in a day (on the 16th), 24,819 recoveries (on the 19th) and highest number of 118 deaths was logged (on the 22nd).

Coronavirus saw its fastest spike in five days between May 16 and 20 wherein over 1 lakh cases were added. The number of active cases reached a new high, touching 2.11 lakh on May 17.

A significant trend during May has been the steady spread of coronavirus in the rural areas of the state. From about 56 per cent during the first couple of weeks of the month, the percentage of COVID-19 cases in rural areas shot up to 63 by the last week while that in the urban centres fell from 44 to 37.

Even the fatalities showed a sharp rise from 50.4 to 57.5 in rural areas while declining to that extent in the urban centres.

Principal Secretary (Health) Anil Kumar Singhal, however, countered this deduction saying, in proportion to the population only 186 persons per lakh were infected in the rural areas as against 263 in the urban areas (last week).

In the previous week, according to Anil, the per-lakh numbers were 247.8 and 383.7 people in rural and urban areas respectively. “With 3.49 crore population in rural areas of the state, it can’t be said the infection spread is higher there,” he noted.

At the beginning of the month, only three out of the 13 districts in the state had more than one lakh total Covid-19 cases each. But, by the end of May, only three districts remained below the lakh mark.

East Godavari district that topped the state chart during the first wave, had a sedate start in the second wave too but surged at a rapid pace, adding 81,129 fresh cases to take its gross to 2.25 lakh.

It has the highest overall positivity rate of 13.09 per cent in the state, ahead of Chittoor’s 11.22 per cent. East Godavari also has the highest number of 30,546 active cases now.

Chittoor district is inching closer to the two-lakh cases mark as it added 68,937 during May. In the Covid-19 toll count, it tops the state with 1,296, of which 313 were clocked in the month alone.

Visakhapatnam district comes next with an addition of 56,046 cases along with 292 fatalities in May.

It’s neighbour Vizianagaram, which was the last district in the state to report a coronavirus case in May last year, registered the lowest number of 23,787 cases this May. Kadapa district reported more than 30,000 new cases but it had the least number of 55 fatalities in the month.