The New Wave of COVID-19 is currently affecting South Australia amidst a rising number of cases, says the head of public health

Recent SA Health data has identified 1691 new cases of COVID-19 in the past seven days. The chief health officer expects a new wave approximately six months from now. New data also shows a very slight increase in ambulance response times. The latest SA Health data shows 1691 new cases of COVID-19, which is 55% higher than the 1069 cases reported the previous week.

As of Tuesday, there were 36 South Australian residents hospitalized with COVID-19.

The chief public health officer, Nicola Spurrier, told a parliamentary committee on COVID-19 management that the increase in cases is not due to the recently discovered Pyrola variant.

"We continue to conduct genomic testing... and primarily, our cases are still related to XBB, not this new variant," she said. "The reason we have a new wave is due to the natural waning of immunity."

Professor Spurrier anticipated a new surge in approximately six months, stating that revaccination would bring "absolute benefit" to some people.

"Perhaps the next surge will happen in... March, April, May — roughly around the same time as we see the flu," she said.

A police car is parked in front of the Peppers Waymouth hotel in the central business district of Adelaide. Professor Spurrier was also asked about how the state has handled the COVID-19 pandemic over the past four years. (ABC News: Michael Clements) The head of health said that while the number of doses administered to people had been "a bit cyclical," the gap between vaccinations was key to controlling COVID-19 amid new waves.

"For people who are more vulnerable, that is older people, people with chronic health conditions, as well as our First Nations people, it would be really helpful for them to get another vaccine if they haven't been infected in these six months," she said.

As for the new variant, Professor Spurrier said authorities are "gathering information," but there are currently no signs that it is "more severe."

"I'm very proud of what we've achieved." Responding to a broader question about South Australia's public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic over the past four years, Professor Spurrier said she was "very, very pleased with our decision-making."

The government has launched an inquiry into its pandemic response. An inquiry into the government's response to the Covid-19 pandemic has been announced, but local quarantines at the state and territory level, as well as border closures, are unlikely to undergo a thorough examination.

Anthony Albanese puts on a mask at a press conference. Read more "I wouldn't do anything differently," she said. "The proof is in the pudding. We're here with many of us, never having had severe illness and not having lost loved ones."

"It's a fine line. It's not easy work, but I'm very proud of what we've achieved here."

When asked whether a federal royal commission should be established, as opposed to the inquiry announced in September, Professor Spurrier said, "I probably won't be able to answer that."

"I don't work for the federal government, and as far as I understand, they are conducting a Commonwealth review," she said.

"I think it's really important for society as a whole in Australia to really look at our response to such a significant health issue."

Empty city street with a tram line King William Street in Adelaide during lockdown in July 2021. (ABC News: Michael Clements) Slight increase in ambulance capacity Meanwhile, new data released by the South Australian government on Friday shows that in October, ambulances spent 3,322 hours — equivalent to 138 days — "ramping" outside Adelaide hospital emergency departments.

Ramping time increased by 1% compared to September when ambulances spent 3,290 hours outside hospitals due to a lack of available beds.

The opposition claimed that South Australians were more likely to experience violence under a Labor government than "at any other time in our state's history."

But the government stated that the October figure was lower than the same month a year ago and below the record level in March of this year, when ambulances spent 3,968 hours at hospital emergency departments.

"We've seen over the last six months, each month has been better than the same time the previous month," Health Minister Chris Picton said.

"We know we've got a long way to go, but you can see that progress.

"It's particularly pleasing to see the progress made at the Flinders Medical Centre and the RAH (Royal Adelaide Hospital), where we've just seen the third-best month at Flinders in the last 18 months [and] it was the best month at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in the last 18 months."