More than 35% of people in Japan feel lonely and isolated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with young people in their 20s and 30s hit harder than the elderly as the result of limited social interaction, a government survey showed Friday.

The survey polled 20,000 people age 16 and older nationwide as of December in a random sample, before the highly transmissible omicron variant rapidly spread across the country in a sixth wave of the pandemic that pushed coronavirus cases to record levels.

Asked about whether they feel lonely, 4.5% said they often or always feel that way, while 14.5% said they feel it sometimes and 17.4% responded they experience loneliness every once in a while.