Taiwanese gang leaders have ordered their subordinates to temporarily shut down brothels and underground casinos and halt rallies to help stem the rapid spread of COVID-19 that threatens to undermine the island’s largely successful efforts over the course of of the past 18 months to contain the virus.

Tiendaomeng, also known as the Heavenly Alliance and one of the three largest triad groups in Taiwan, issued a “jianhu order” – a high-level command in the underworld – to prohibit members from visiting places. prostitutes, to play and to congregate. The gang has also closed all of its own underground casinos, hotels, entertainment clubs and brothels, according to Taiwan’s United Daily News.

The revolutionary order was aimed at minimizing social contact and helping contain the coronavirus, which has hit Taiwan since mid-May. The number of cases rose from just over one thousand two weeks to 8,160 on Monday afternoon.

The other two major organized crime groups, Bamboo Union and the Four Seas Gang, have yet to issue such an order.

However, all of the gang leaders have already warned their subordinates, sources in the triad told United Daily News. “Everyone knows now is not the time to mess around,” one said. But prolonged social distancing measures and lockdowns will have a major impact on the livelihoods of the poor.

The development of a “jianhu order” was a rarity, local police said. Their willingness to collaborate has been helpful in containing the virus and maintaining social order, he added.

Yet some gangsters have reportedly tried to take advantage of Taiwan’s shortage of rapid test kits and vaccines. Vaccines and other medical equipment are already trading on the black market, a source told United Daily News. Vaccines made in mainland China are more widely available, but there was still a limited supply of AstraZeneca vaccines, the source said.

Although rapid test kits and vaccines require government approval, those who can afford them would still buy them on the black market, the source said. A US $ 14.50 test kit imported from overseas could fetch three or four times as much, the source added.

Police have warned that taking unapproved vaccines is against the law, urging the public to only take those approved by authorities.

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