"Since then... they asked me not to come back. They sent my bags here," he told AFP in Taungoo, a few hours' drive north of commercial hub Yangon.

His team run an ambulance service that transports sick patients and picks up bodies for cremation and burial.

At night they return to the building -- once part of the city's university, but now empty -- to eat together, relax and play on their phones.

Thar Gyi should be at sea or preparing for a voyage -- he had secured a position with a western shipping firm, but then the pandemic struck and put the job on hold.

Like most of the group he has caught the virus and recovered, but his family still want him to stay away while he goes about his job as a corpse carrier.

"Even if I go back, I talk to them from the entrance without going inside the house," he said.

"They cook whatever I want to eat. But they put it at the entrance of the house. They don't let me come in."

Fellow ambulance worker Kumara has been a monk for 17 years, but left his monastery to organise the volunteer group when the third wave of infections hit in June.

He has had the virus too and is keeping away from his fellow devotees, who like most of the town are wary of potential infection.

"People do not like ambulances parking in front of their house," he said.

"They run away and cover their noses... They think our ambulance is carrying viruses."