A PRELIMINARY report into the death of six babies at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital last week has showed that norovirus infection - complicated by klebsiella bacteria and lack of proper infection control - caused the deaths.
Though the investigation is continuing, paediatric experts believe the virus came from outside the hospital.
Professor Adriano Duse, chief specialist in microbiology and infectious diseases at the hospital, said yesterday: "We know that there are viral outbreaks in communities and it is highly likely that the infection came from outside.
"We have detected norovirus and klebsiella bacteria in the infants' stools. At this stage we think that the infants had a norovirus infection which was complicated by the klebsiella bacteria.
"Of the 17 babies, including the six that died, 15 of them were confirmed to have the norovirus infection. There were others that had klebsiella pneumonia in their bloodstream.
"We also found klebsiella bacteria in the feeding bottles, which leads us to think that proper infection control was not followed.
"But we believe that all of these factors played a role in the death of these infants."
All six babies have already been buried. The grandmother of one of the last babies to die said the family was coping and did not intend to take any legal action against the department of health.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said at a media briefing yesterday that it was not his place to say if the six families would be compensated for their loss.
"It has been a traumatic past week not only for the families, hospital and department but for the whole country," he said.
"Nobody wishes to see babies die, especially so many babies at the same time.
"We admit there was a lapse of infection control on our side. We should have done better. We apologise for the tragedy and hope that other hospitals learn a lesson from this traumatic situation," Motsoaledi said.