DUBLIN (Reuters) - The number of people in Ireland dependent on social welfare income support amidst the coronavirus outbreak has soared to more than 700,000 based on numbers released on Monday by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.
On April 3, 507,000 people were paid the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Support payment, which is a weekly stipend of 350 euros ($377.93) for those who have lost jobs or had hours cut due to coronavirus disruption.
That was in addition to 207,000 people on the Live Register, which measures demand for regular jobless benefit.
"The scale of demand for the COVID-19 payment demonstrates the once-in-a-century nature of the emergency facing the country as we face this unique emergency," said Regina Doherty, Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection.
"This is a temporary health emergency and the government is determined that it won't be a permanent economic one."
It took three years for Ireland's jobless claims to reach a peak of around 450,000 during the financial crisis a decade ago that pushed the country to the brink of bankruptcy. The coronavirus crisis needed just three weeks to top that.
Ireland has reported 5,364 cases of coronavirus infection and 174 deaths from the respiratory disease, but the rate of increase in infections is slowing.
(Reporting by Graham Fahy; Editing by Mark Heinrich)