The high and continuing number of Covid cases continues to put pressure on exhausted staff, Dr Ina Kelly told RTÉ's Morning Ireland earlier today.
She stressed that for every bed that is taken up with Covid, a bed is denied to people with other illnesses and those on waiting lists.
There are now nearly a million people on waiting lists, she noted.
She also urged people not to become vaccine complacent.
Dr Kelly pointed out that while the vaccines have been very effective at reducing serious illness, they are not 100% effective and are not as good as preventing transmission as was hoped.
Continuing to follow public health advice is very important, she said, and added that no one should enter an environment which they feel is unsafe.
She also urged everyone to be patient with the healthcare service and staff who are tired and exhausted.
On Sunday the Department of Health was notified of 3,428 new cases of Covid-19.
Of these, 478 patients with the virus in hospital - an increase of 34 from Saturday. The number in ICU had risen by one to 75.
Last week the INMO warned about the increasing number of patients on trollies. General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said: “This week we have seen a new pandemic record of 2305 patients on trolleys. Unless urgent action is taken we are going to see record-breaking numbers in our hospitals every week.
“It is now the first week of November and we have still yet to see a comprehensive winter plan from the Minister for Health and the HSE. This delay in publishing a fully funded solution to the overcrowding crisis that exists in our hospitals is unacceptable.
“Our staff in our hospitals are exhausted, they are dealing with rising trolley numbers coupled with rising COVID-related hospitalisations.
“We need funding to implement the Safe-Staffing Framework, which determines the safe levels of nurse-to-patient ratio. Just like we have a pupil-teacher ratio that advises on the optimum number of children in a classroom to one teacher.
"We are hearing examples in our hospitals of one nurse to fifteen patients in a ward. This is not a safe environment for the nurse or patients," Ms Ní Sheaghdha said.
“The Government and HSE need to urgently outline how they plan to curb the levels of overcrowding in our hospitals to ensure the safety of healthcare workers and patients,” she added.
Today's figures show that 449 admitted patients are waiting for beds this morning, according to today’s INMO Trolley Watch. 344 patients are waiting in the emergency department, while 105 are in wards elsewhere in the hospital.
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.