The HSE is pleading with the public to consider all other options before attending a hospital emergency department.
The request comes following what it says will be “one of the busiest ever periods experienced by the health service”.
In a statement, the HSE said that some patients will “regrettably experience long wait times in our emergency departments, urgent patients will always be prioritised for treatment and care”.
The statement advised that community pharmacies, GPs and GP out-of-hours services and minor injury units can be visited by people who are unwell.
HSE Chief Operations Officer Damien McCallion said emergency departments are becoming extremely busy due to the “unprecedented combination of very high levels of flu, Covid-19 and other respiratory illnesses in the community”.
“Those who believe they may be seriously ill and require emergency care should of course come to hospital, but we would urge others to consider seeking support from pharmacists, GPs, GP Out of Hours Services and Minor Injury Units,” Mr McCallion said.
“These services have emergency responses in place for patients presenting with respiratory and other urgent health issues.”
Cases of Covid-19 and influenza continue to increase rapidly, while RSV cases, which had been declining for several weeks, are also now increasing.