The deadly coronavirus, which has already killed 17 people, could have been spread by bat soup - a popular delicacy in Chinese city Wuhan.
Experts believe fruit bats could be playing host to the virus as researchers have "underestimated" the condition, which is similar to pneumonia and SARS, according to a paper published in the Chinese Science Bulletin.
Wuhan, where the virus originated, has been quarantined, as the virus continues to spread.
Wuhan's local government said it would shut down all urban transport networks and suspend outgoing flights from the city as of 10 am on Thursday, state media reported.
The government is urging citizens to not leave the city in the absence of special circumstances.
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China confirmed 571 cases of the virus so far and 17 deaths.
Scientists believe an "unknown intermediate" may be spreading the disease.
Now there are suggestions the bat soup could be to blame after footage of the unusual cuisine emerged online, reports the Daily Star .
A grotesque image of a grinning bat with its cooked insides floating amongst broth in a bowl before it is consumed by a woman is turning stomaches across the globe.
A clip showing a girl putting one of the creatures in her mouth with chopsticks while eating with friends has had a similar reaction.
"The Wuhan coronavirus’ natural host could be bats … but between bats and humans there may be an unknown intermediate," said a statement from scientists published in the South China Morning Post.
News of the bat soup comes as the Foreign Office warned Brits not to travel to Wuhan amid fears of a global outbreak.
Last night China confirmed 571 total cases of the new coronavirus outbreak. As of Wednesday evening, 17 deaths have been reported, all in Hubei province.
Around 20 medical workers have also been infected.
Actual figures are likely to be much higher, with leading Virologists suggesting billions could be at risk.
Chinese authorities have ordered a stop to travel in and out of Wuhan, and cars are understood to have been blocked by officials.
Professor Neil Ferguson, director of the Medical Research Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, said the estimated number of people infected with coronavirus in Wuhan is around 4,000, with a range between 1,000 and 9,700.