New coronavirus cases confirmed among children in Japan totaled 17,734 in August, more than tripling from the previous month, the education ministry has said.

The virus spread widely among kids, particularly elementary school children, with new cases increasing nearly fourfold, the ministry warned Friday.

Among the total cases, 340 were among kindergarten pupils, 8,031 in elementary school children, 5,520 among junior high school students, 3,703 in high school students, with 140 found in students at special-needs schools.

The cumulative number of new cases among children between June last year and last month came to 54,149, meaning 30% were detected in August alone, the ministry said. So far, it added, two children in their 10s have developed severe symptoms.

Meanwhile, another survey conducted by the ministry found that as of Monday, 3.2% of local education boards were temporarily closing elementary schools, while 3.7% were closing junior high schools and 4.2% high schools.

The results suggest that most schools, some of which extended summer breaks to prevent infections from spreading in classrooms, are returning to normal operations, the ministry said.

As of Sept. 1, 12.4% of elementary schools had been temporarily closed, while 12.8 of junior high schools and 19.2% of high schools had been shut at some point.

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