However, the fear of getting sick again never leaves him. “You always have that fear of contact with other people, but all you can do is be careful,” observes Erik. His only protection is a mask, a little alcohol, and his faith that everything will be all right. However, the virus remains an ever-present threat: monitoring campaigns conducted by the Ministry of Health and some Lima districts showed that some 30%-40% of delivery workers were infected.
Due to his status as foreign citizen, Erik does not have coverage under the Comprehensive Health Insurance (SIS) system. In theory, his Temporary Residence Permit gives him access to basic rights, but he has not managed to complete the process. This places him among the 91.5% of Venezuelan migrants without health insurance . For Venezuelans with irregular status, the outlook is even less encouraging. A study by the Center for Global Development and Refugees International notes that these migrants are excluded from the health system. Even those with regularized status may encounter problems accessing primary care due to “fear of threats from the authorities and lack of awareness among hospital staff,” according to the report.
“I would like to get coverage under SIS,” says Erik, alarmed by the second wave of infections. Although he initially thought young people weren’t at risk from COVID-19, now, he’s not so sure. Although the pandemic and work challenges are burdensome, he knows that the situation could be worse. “At least I have work”, he says, taking heart. And he’s not wrong: according to the Ombudsman’s Office, 89% of resident Venezuelans lost their job as a direct result of the pandemic. The 12% drop in Peru’s economic growth in 2020 ended up hitting the most vulnerable populations the hardest.
“If the pandemic doesn’t affect your health, it hits you financially and psychologically,” comments Erik. Now on his motorbike again, he prefers to focus on the next order and not dwell on the economy or lack of work in the formal sector. He zooms in and out of traffic down an avenue, turns onto another street, and pauses to deliver a pizza still hot from the oven. Despite everything, he feels fortunate. He has work, his family is together, and he survived the coronavirus. Perhaps one day he can make his dream of returning to Tucaní come true.