British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (C) chairs a morning COVID-19 update meeting remotely during his self-isolation after testing positive for COVID-19, in London, Britain, on March 28, 2020. A total of 19,522 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Britain as of Sunday morning, marking an increase of 2,433 in the past 24 hours, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (C) chairs a morning COVID-19 update meeting remotely during his self-isolation after testing positive for COVID-19, in London, Britain, on March 28, 2020. A total of 19,522 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Britain as of Sunday morning, marking an increase of 2,433 in the past 24 hours, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.
Andrew Parsons/No 10 Downing Street/Handout via Xinhua

Unemployment claims in Britain jumped 69 per cent in April, as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold and hit the labor market, UK authorities said Tuesday.

The Office of National Statistics says jobless claims surged by 856,000 to 2.1 million in April as compared to the month before. The figures covered only the first weeks of the lockdown, said Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics at the ONS.

"In March, employment held up well, as furloughed workers still count as employed, but hours worked fell sharply in late March, especially in sectors such as hospitality and construction,'' he said.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey told the BBC that the government was focused on those claiming benefits under Universal Credit, a welfare payment for those who need help, including the unemployed.

"I think so far the employment stats really are indicative to the end of March and we won't have a more detailed understanding for about another month,'' she said. "So at the moment, the Universal Credit claimants are where we are focusing our interest."

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