Liberia said that there are currently only five confirmed cases of Ebola in the entire country – a dramatic turnaround in the West African nation where the virus has taken its deadliest toll. The government believes it could be free of the virus by the end of next month.

At the height of the outbreak in August and September, Liberia was recording more than 300 new cases of the virus every week. To date 3,636 Liberians have died of Ebola, according to the World Health Organisation. But the outbreak has begun to wane. Now there are now just five people in the country being treated for Ebola, Tolbert Nyenswah, who heads the country's Ebola response, said.

Getty Images photographer John Moore, whose powerful pictures captured the sadness and fear of Liberians at the height of the crisis, has returned to the country as life begins to get back to normal.

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Youth play football on the "Miami Beach" in MonroviaJohn Moore/Getty Images
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A family enjoys the beach in Monrovia. During the height of the Ebola epidemic, Liberians were discouraged from gathering in public places and having physical contact with others. With Ebola cases now in single digits nationwide, many have begun to return to normal lifeJohn Moore/Getty Images
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A boy climbs aboard a fishing boat docked in the West Point township in MonroviaJohn Moore/Getty Images
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Groom Clarence Murvee takes his bride Bindu Quaye by the waist while entering their wedding reception in Monrovia. Like many couples, they waited until the worst of the Ebola epidemic had passed before scheduling their weddingJohn Moore/Getty Images
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Bindu Quaye poses for photos with flower girls before her wedding reception. With Ebola cases now in single digits nationwide, people have begun to return to normal lifeJohn Moore/Getty Images

The world's largest Ebola treatment centre, the ELWA-3 unit in Monrovia, is being dismantled. The 120-bed centre opened in August and was immediately overwhelmed, with staff turning patients away. Five months later it registered no patients at all.

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Ebola survivor Jessy Amos, 45, now an employee of Doctors Without Borders (MSF), sets fire to part of the Ebola Treatment Unit in Paynesville, Liberia. MSF, which was one of the first aid organisations to respond to the Ebola epidemic in Liberia, is destroying much of the ELWA 3 high-risk treatment area, reducing it from 250 to 30 bedsJohn Moore/Getty Images

In her state of the nation address this week, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said that, at the height of the outbreak, Liberia was the "poster child of disaster".

"Our hospitals and clinics as well as our schools closed down. People ran away from their families and homes. Our economy was on the verge of collapse," she told lawmakers, adding that the initial response from Liberia and the international community was weak.

"I can say today that despite all of this that our nation has remained strong, our people resilient," said Sirleaf.

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Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf delivers her State of the Nation speech in MonroviaJohn Moore/Getty Images
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Supporters of Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf wait for her to emerge from the national legislature building in MonroviaJohn Moore/Getty Images
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Students wait to register at Tubman High School in Monrovia, which has been closed since March when Ebola epidemic startedJohn Moore/Getty Images
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A caretaker looks towards a leaky roof in a kindergarten classroom in Monrovia. Schools are supposed to reopen next Monday, but many have not been maintained or cleaned since they were closed last MarchJohn Moore/Getty Images
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Broken chairs and desks are stacked in a corner of the Tubman High School gymnasium in MonroviaJohn Moore/Getty Images

Sierra Leone and Guinea – also hammered by the disease – have also seen a dramatic reduction in cases.

Dr. David Nabarro, the UN special envoy on Ebola, said: "The change in behaviour that we've been hoping for, working for, anticipating, is now happening everywhere. Safe burial teams are providing safe and dignified burial services and the result is that we're seeing the beginnings of the outbreak slowing down."

The disease is spread through contact with bodily fluids of infected people or the highly contagious body of someone who has died of the virus. Nabarro said burial practices that involved people touching and cleaning bodies of Ebola victims had helped fuel the outbreak.

"Death-related practices in the region had been responsible for a quite dramatic spread of the virus," said Nabarro. He said that as people realized the dangers they adopted safer behaviors that led to a drop in infections.

Families in Liberia are no longer required to cremate the remains of loved ones to halt the spread of the virulent disease. Ebola victims can now be buried in a dedicated cemetery where burial teams wear protective clothing.

Families are permitted to view the burials, important in Liberian culture. The enforced cremations often further traumatised surviving family members, unintentionally encouraging many families to hide their dead for secret burials.

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A Liberian Red Cross burial team in Ebola protective clothing collects the body of a toddler from a home in the West Point township in MonroviaJohn Moore/Getty Images
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A Liberian Red Cross burial team prepares to test the body of a toddler for Ebola while collecting it from a home in the West Point townshipJohn Moore/Getty Images
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A family watches as a burial team wearing protective clothing lowers their loved one into a grave. Families of the deceased are permitted to view the burials, important in Liberian culture. The Liberian government had previously ordered the cremation of all those who died in the capital, often further traumatising surviving family members and unintentionally encouraging many families to hide their dead for secret burialsJohn Moore/Getty Images
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A grave digger works in the US-built cemetery for "safe burials" in Disco Hill, Liberia. The cemetery, operated by USAID-funded Global Communities, has buried almost 300 people in its first month of operation, with increasingly fewer of the bodies coming from Ebola Treatment Units, as infection rates declineJohn Moore/Getty Images
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Anthony Johnny prepares fresh grave markers for the Christian section of the cemetery in Disco HillJohn Moore/Getty Images
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A burial team member wearing personal protective equipment is disinfected at the cemetery in Disco HillJohn Moore/Getty Images

The worst epidemic of the virus on record has infected about 21,200 people in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, killing more than 8,600, since it was detected in March.

The outbreak has not killed as many people as some predictions. At its height, one estimate warned that as many as 1.4 million people could become infected by mid-January.