Brazil yellow fever
A health agent vaccinates a child on the street in a neighborhood where the risk of infection is high, during an emergency campaign of vaccination against yellow fever in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Feb. 2, 2018. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

A wanted drug dealer in Rio de Janeiro was hailed a “modern-day Robin Hood” after he kidnapped nurses to vaccinate his community against yellow fever, local media reports said.

Brazil is currently facing a spike in yellow fever cases and the government has launched a mass vaccination drive to contain the spread. But, the administration lacks the resources to cover lifetime vaccination requirements for its massive population. At least 25 deaths have been reported this year from yellow fever. Immunization centers struggle to attend to the high number of patients and in the process, the poor communities or the slums are ignored.

This might have prompted Thomaz Vieira Gomes, one of the most notorious criminals in Rio de Janeiro, to take matters into his own hands and, with the help of his gang, kidnapped two male nurses from the Itauna vaccination post Jan. 27 so that one of the poorest favelas (slums) in Rio de Janeiro, Slagueiro, could be vaccinated. The gang also took syringes and vaccine doses to the slum.

Slagueiro is believed to be the hub of drug operations of Gomes, who is popularly known as 2N.

The nurses were watched over by the gang members as they administered vaccines to the community, which took about two hours. They were then taken back to the vaccination post by 2N’s people. The nurses told local media the kidnappers were not aggressive and did not hurt them. They told the nurses they had to take this course of action as many from the community were not capable of visiting an immunization center, Venezuela's state-backed TeleSUR reported.

Rio de Janeiro police department said they were not informed of the kidnapping, and the Municipal Health Department declared they would be holding an investigation into the matter.

Many social media users took to Twitter to appreciate 2N’s actions. Former Environment Minister Carlos Minc commented 2N is “a—hole,” but his actions were a “public service.”

Here are some of the Twitter reactions.

Authorities have a standing offer of $3,000 reward to anyone who offers information that could lead to the capture of 2N.

Brazil has been grappling with yellow fever recently. Due to this, even the public has resorted to drastic measures. Earlier this month, over hundreds of monkeys were found dead in Rio de Janeiro. Authorities believe the monkeys were killed by people who falsely suspected the primates were responsible for the spread of yellow fever. Authorities said about 69 percent of the deaths were due to illegal killings by the humans.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defined yellow fever as a disease spread by mosquitoes. CDC website said the initial symptoms included backache, headache, muscle aches and fever, and added about 15 percent of people who have contracted the disease are at the risk of developing illness such as organ failure, bleeding and shock, and ultimately death.