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Friday, 25 June, 2021

A Venezuelan man buries victims of the Coronavirus in Chile

Marco Antonio Tonito has 17th month living in Santiago, Chile, seven of those months, working as a gravedigger at the Santiago Park Cemetery. His dynamic has changed the last weeks since the coronavirus outbreak started. Now, he protects himself twice and is afraid of contagion after seeing death so close.


By DayimarAyala Altuve.

During the quarantine, all the numbers have increased: the contagious, the recovered, the deceased, the lockdown days, the affected countries, and more. For Marco Antonio Tonito, a Venezuelan living in Santiago, it has been a busy, busy day since September 2019 he works as a gravedigger at the Santiago Park Cemetery. Talking with El Pitazo, Marco assures that the dynamic has changed due to the Covid-19 pandemic: They work more and must to protect double.

When hi gets a legal status in Chile, Marco Antonio also gets a job as a gravedigger, “It was a little more money and stability in a company that brings together several cemeteries, and that’s how I started,” said. He has seven months working there, but in the last weeks, he saw how the dead cause are the same: breathing affections. The number of services also has increased, from four to 10 per day.

Tonito told that he does a little bit of everything: he prepares the awning at the cemeteries, excavates, exhumes, or buries corpses. Before, when he just arrived in Chile, he sold Optical fiber in Movistar. In Venezuela, where he studied Publicity and Marketing, he worked in a protocol team in an institution. He left his three children in Venezuela and his mother, who suffers high blood pressures.

Tonito told that he does a little bit of everything: he prepares the awning at the cemeteries, excavates, exhumes, or buries corpses.

A special job

Marco Antonio Tonito began his workdays reading the services that he has to do. He reads the death causes, and when he noticed that one of the persons died of a coronavirus, he thinks about not exposing himself.

How is the protocol to avoid a COVID 19 contagious working as a gravedigger? Tonito told El Pitazo that he uses a double mask, one of them is making by copper and Bambu that also is anti-bacterial, a white overall, double disposable gloves, security glasses, and a medical mask. He also said that he is watching the news, and despite his work partners, he is aware of the danger of the virus and that unconsciousness is, perhaps, more lethal to people. “Of course, I feel scared. I don’t want to get the virus. I think in my family and what is happening around the world.”

“Some complaints about been locked in their houses while I complain I can’t be home with my kids and my mom”
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When the workday is over, he changes his clothes, and he goes home to other cleaning processes: he puts his clothes in a bag, he washes the special mask with hot water, clean his hands and going to sleep. The next day he is back to the cemetery.

His family knows about his job, the risks and sacrifices that implies to do that work in a complicated global time. “My mom always says that she prays for me, also my older daughter,” Tonito said.

Everything changed

Tonito explains how is the burial process currently and the measures he takes to avoid a contagious.

“Few people dare to say that a relative dies for coronavirus, but everything had changed. Security measures apply everywhere. The bodies are in hermetic bags, and so they put them in the urns. The urns came sealed. The floats get, as close as possible, to the graves, there are only three or four relatives in the distance”.

Tonito also said that his co-workers heard that in Wuhan, the city of the virus, the quarantine finished, so they don’t want to use the security implements anymore. “There is little culture of the virus and how bad it is. They don’t care about the protection, and that is worse. They may not be clear, but the company does and requires them to use the implements to avoid the virus.”

“People complain about having to wear masks, and I wonder: What is going to happen? Are these going to be worse than Europe? Prevention is first. Some complaints about been locked in their houses while I complain I can’t be home with my kids and my mom. Stay their homes, that is the best thing you can do”.

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