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The Chinese government forced a TV host to apologize for popularizing the consumption of cooked bats after the wild animals were linked to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Bat soup is a delicacy in some areas of China. Bats were among the wild animals illegally sold at a wholesale fish market in Wuhan, China where the first case of the virus was identified earlier this month.

The new coronavirus has killed 56 people - including a doctor - in China and sickened thousands more. Some figures estimate that up to 90,000 people are infected with the virus in China.

The woman hosted a TV show called Beauty Eats Bats which originally launched in 2016. In video clips from the show, the woman displays a cooked bat to the camera. She tears the bat apart with her fingers and marinates the meat in soy sauce before eating it.

In a new video clip the host apologized profusely to her viewers for encouraging the consumption of bats. She urged her viewers to wash their hands often - the recommended way to prevent the spread of the virus.

The Chinese government has closed 14 cities and canceled air travel and public transportation. The government came under fire for initially lying about the scale of the infection.

Construction workers are rushing to build 2 new hospitals in Wuhan with 2,000 beds to cope with the outbreak. One of the hospitals will open its doors on Feb. 3.