The local lockdowns in Kildare, Laois and Offaly are a "call to arms" for the whole country, according to HSE boss Paul Reid.
Mr Reid says he "totally understands" the frustration and anger of locals in those three counties, but warned that coronavirus is "bursting at the seams to get back into the community".
He was speaking today after the Government yesterday confirmed two weeks of new restrictions for the three counties following spikes in coronavirus cases.
Health officials made the recommendation to Government after 226 cases of COVID-19 in Kildare, Laois and Offaly over the past two weeks.
While some of the largest clusters have been linked to a small number of meat processing plants, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said isolating the factories wouldn't be enough, and therefore measures were needed across the community.
Mr Reid today said NPHET's recommendations to Government are always done on a precautionary basis.
In the midlands we have increased our resources in public health, testing & tracing. The testing centres are open the weekend and two new "pop up" centres are in place in Newbridge and Portlaoise. But important that everyone, everywhere remain vigilant, please. @HSELive #Covid19
— Paul Reid (@paulreiddublin) August 8, 2020
He said: "I think the very nature of this disease... you take the actions that are proportionate and preventive immediately, as you need them. That's what's been taken in this case.
"It is also a call to arms to the whole country to be extremely vigilant.
"This is not just about the three counties, although they are particularly impacted by these measures.
"The whole country needs to be really vigilant at this point of time: this disease is bursting at the seams to get back into the community, and all of the actions we individually take... are all really important at this time."
He said the HSE has "immediately mobilised" in the three impacted counties, including new pop-up testing centres and increased resources for contact tracing.