Hospitals are cancelling elective procedures and using surge capacity because of the high volume of Covid-19 patient admissions, the HSE said.
Admissions have increased four-fold over the last month, with hospitals in Cavan, Cork and Donegal said to be under particular pressure.
HSE chief executive Paul Reid said that hospitals are “still coping” but the trends are concerning.
He said: “What we are seeing is some impact in some hospitals in terms of elective care and non-Covid services, which they don’t want to let happen.
“We are seeing a smaller number of hospitals starting to use surge capacity, which is not where we want to go.
“Our hospitals are still coping. We’re still managing, under pressure, but managing. The main concern is looking ahead, what might come at us.”
Cork University Hospital, Cavan Hospital and Letterkenny Hospital in Co Donegal were highlighted as facing particular pressure.
Mr Reid said: “Cork University Hospital today have put in a number of initiatives to redesign and put some extra bed capacity in over the next week or so.
“They’re also looking at the potential use of some of the private hospital capacity down there as well. So they are taking the initiatives and they are continuing to cope, but it’s the trend we are concerned about.”
The main concern is looking ahead, what might come at usPaul Reid, HSE
This week Ireland saw 1,095 cases recorded in a single day, the highest figure since the pandemic began.
Week on week, that represents a 65% increase in incidents of the virus.
There are now 238 patients with the virus in hospitals and 29 in intensive care units.
The number of healthcare workers who are absent, because of either contracting the virus or going into self-isolation as a close contact, has again increased to 1,100.
Mr Reid appealed to the public to adhere to the guidelines and not leave healthcare workers exposed.
He said: “They are, as we all know, they are the last line of defence against Covid. We don’t want to put our people there as a last line of defence.
“I’d use a very simple analogy of a footballing team. Our frontline healthcare workers, the people who work in clinical care and ICU, would be the equivalent of our goalkeeper. No good team leaves their goalkeeper very exposed.”
Itâs vital to keep connected - but to socialise safely with #COVID19, we have to do things differently to protect ourselves and loved ones.— Department of Health (@roinnslainte) September 30, 2020
â Keep groups small & regular
â Make a plan to prioritise and reduce your social contacts
â Meet outside if possible
â Keep 2m distance pic.twitter.com/u3ikMa0wYP
He added: “There is much more that we can do to protect our health workers. Please avoid meeting people if you don’t need to meet. Please definitely avoid going to people’s homes.”
Meanwhile, testing capacity has improved to exceed the target of 100,000 tests per week.
Mr Reid said that in the last week more than 103,250 swabs were carried out in community and hospital settings and 99,260 lab tests were completed.
In recent weeks, 25% of Covid-19-related hospital admissions have been in people under the age of 35, Mr Reid said, emphasising that the virus “does impact all age groups”.
There have been 9,345 tests among students and staff in 384 schools, with a positive rate of 1.9%.