LONDON (Reuters) – A measure of the number of people claiming unemployment benefits in Britain soared in April, the first full month of the government’s coronavirus lockdown, data published on Tuesday showed.

The claimant count rose by 856,500 to 2.097 million, the Office for National Statistics said.

A Reuters poll of economists had produced a median forecast for a leap of 676,500 in the claimant count with forecasts ranging widely from just over 56,000 to as high as 1.5 million.

The ONS also said Britain’s unemployment rate fell to 3.9% in the January-March period, covering only one week of the lockdown, from 4.0% in the three months to February.

(Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by William Schomberg)