Germany’s Big Brother contestants have been kept in the dark about the affects of the coronavirus outbreak since they entered the house on February 6.
But the blissful ignorance of the reality TV show stars will be shattered on Tuesday night.
Presenter Jochen Schropp and the Big Brother doctor Andreas Kaniewski will break the news to the remaining 13 contestants in a special live episode.
Broadcaster Sat.1 said contestants will be able to receive video messages from their relatives and will be able to ask questions.
The German Big Brother house is in the western city of Cologne, which is particularly hard hit by the virus. Germany and surrounding nations have undertaken extraordinary measures, including closing borders, and shutting down public life, to try and contain the spread of COVID-19.
As they were being sealed in the house, news on the outbreak was slow, with just a couple of confirmed cases in Bavaria. The contestants likely didn’t realise the scale of the pandemic.
Four new contestants — Serkan, Romana, Menowin and Jade — moved into the house last Monday, but they were banned from talking about the virus.
The 13th season of Big Brother is divided into two houses: the more futuristic Glasshouse and the more basic Blockhouse. Contestants are rated by audience members daily and the winner is granted immunity from eviction.
Five contestants — Cathleen, Mac, Maria, Mareike and Rene — have left the house already.
Sat.1 told German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung that there were strict rules in place to protect the residents from infection, including “special hygiene measures” at the production house. Sat.1 said all contestants had tested negative for the virus.
Read more: Culture in the time of corona
What are other countries doing?
According to Big Brother fansite, Big Brother Wikia, there are seven Big Brother franchises currently running around the world.
The Italian version of Celebrity Big Brother, Grande Fratello VIP, has been running since January 8. Due to the virus outbreak, it has banned further guests from entering the house, excluded live audiences, and has moved forward the finale.
The Italian contestants were informed of the pandemic, prompting them to sing Azzuro, which has become a sort of anthem in Italy during the pandemic.
The Brazilian contestants were informed and given disinfection gel, a lesson on handwashing and advice for avoiding contagion.
The Candian Big Brother contestants were informed of the outbreak and all chose to remain on the show. Showrunners said they had removed the live audience elements, increased precautions, but would continue to film the show.
“As part of the production’s precautionary measures, the houseguests have been provided a thorough update on the domestic and international status of COVID-19 along with an update that all houseguest’s family members remain unaffected by COVID-19 at this time. In addition to having been in isolation for more than three weeks, the production has a resident doctor who has assessed and determined that no houseguests have exhibited any signs or symptoms related to COVID-19,” showrunners told the Canadian Press.
“What a time to be in the Big Brother house and quarantined when there is a pandemic in the world,” contestant Minh-Ly reportedly said in one of the episodes. “It is the perfect place to be,” replied fellow contestant Chris, perceptively.
Contestants Hira and Susanne were brought to tears by the number of people infected.
The contestants had earlier wondered why they couldn’t hear a live audience anymore.