INFLUENZA rates in the city are back up to similar levels as this time last year, according to Ballarat Health Services.
BHS acute operations director Ben Kelly said the health service had to be mindful of juggling this rise with an increasing demand for people presenting to the Base Hospital with respiratory illness.
Mr Kelly said this increase did not mean a higher likelihood of COVID-19 on the wards, but it did mean there was greater caution from people experiencing respiratory troubles.
Victoria's latest influenza report show the state's flu cases were below expected levels for this time of the year.
The weekly report released on Friday, from the health department, was for the full week to June 13 when Mr Kelly told The Courier influenza cases in Ballarat were not high but there were a lot of people experiencing cold-like symptoms.
Mr Kelly urged people to maintain social distancing for the school holidays amid cold and flu season, particularly with a wave of new COVID-19 cases in Melbourne the past week.
He made clear social distancing was "our greatest defence" against virus - and it had shown what happens with likely lapses in this among Melbourne's communities now deemed hotspots.
City of Ballarat mayor Ben Taylor encouraged residents to be kind to visitors during the holidays, to maintain social distancing and use common sense to stay safe.
"Winter might be a bit different this year for us all, but one thing we know that in Ballarat, exploring locally is one of the best ways to spend the school holidays," Cr Taylor said.
"It's an opportunity to enjoy being indoors with a little self-care on the menu, or to embrace the cold and head outside for a welcome dose of fresh air as you explore the region's picturesque lakes and mountains."
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