Big Brother contestants in Germany have finally been told about the coronavirus pandemic.
The 14 contestants, who are being housed in Cologne, were stunned into silence as they were informed about the worldwide crisis by host Jochen Schropp during a live televised episode, which aired ahead of its regular slot at 7pm on Tuesday evening.
The group – who according to the Guardian were some of the last people to be informed about the deadly virus – were also given the opportunity to ask questions to the show’s resident doctor Dr Andreas Kaniewski, as well as to speak to their loved ones at home.
Finally! Big Brother contestants in Germany were stunned into silence as they were told about the coronavirus pandemic, in a live episode which aired ahead of its regular slot on Tuesday
Plans to keep the contestants in the dark unless a relative became were overturned following an uproar on social media over the decision.
On Tuesday night, from behind a glass screen, host Jochen Schropp and Big Brother resident doctor Dr Andreas Kaniewski broke the news to the housemates.
Speaking in German, Jochen said: ‘There is currently a lot going on in world events since you entered the house.
‘We’d like to inform you as to why we’re here and why we’re behind a glass screen.’
Messengers: The 14 contestants were informed about the worldwide crisis by host Jochen Schropp while resident doctor Dr Andreas Kaniewski was on hand to answer questions
Special circumstances: The group were also told that they would be allowed to speak to their loved ones at home
The camera panned around the seating area as the housemates fell into stunned silence as they were brought up to speed on the coronavirus.
‘COVID-19 has basically spread across the world in recent days, triggering a global pandemic.
‘This is a disease similar to the flu, and is mainly dangerous for older people,’ explained Jochen.
The producers initially defended their first decision not to enlighten the housemates and told local newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung they would only be informed in certain circumstances.
But the channel which airs the reality programme – Sat.1 – faced backlash online from viewers who suggested it was unfair not to tell the housemates.
Many took to Twitter to air their grievances over the situation.
One wrote: ‘I read today that contestants on Big Brother, Germany have no idea what’s going on in the outside world with the Corona Virus and TV company is debating whether to tell them! What a liberty!’
Ignorance is bliss? Big Brother contestants in Germany hadn’t known a thing about the coronavirus pandemic before Tuesday (contestants pictured on the show)
Another penned: ‘So are we gonna talk about how the members of Big Brother in Germany currently have no idea about the coronavirus and nobody is allowed to tell them?’
A third said: ‘There’s people in the big brother Germany house who have been their since Feb 6th and they have no idea about coronavirus [mind blown emoji]’.
Another impassioned viewer said: ‘People on Big Brother Germany, Brazil, Canada haven’t been told about Covid-19.
‘I’ve read some f***ed up s***t recently but that is f***ed up.’
Show bosses have also insisted that ‘special hygiene measures’ have been taken to protect the contestants from getting the infection.
Most of the housemates entered the show at its inception on February 6, when the global threat of coronavirus seemed unlikely and only cases in Wuhan, China were confirmed.
Four more contestants were introduced to the house on March 6, just three days before the country reported its first coronavirus death.
Since the show began, it has only been interrupted in the same way once before, as in 2001 the American version of the show broke the news to contestants about 9/11 when one relative was presumed missing.
Coronavirus was confirmed as a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11.
The housemates are in total isolation in a purpose-built compound, which is understood to be well supplied with food and essentials.
They aren’t told about major news events until after they’ve been eliminated, but an exception was made in this instance.
Big Brother contests aren’t the only people who were, until very recently, unaware of the pandemic.
Jared Leto was left stunned after emerging from a 12-day desert retreat to discover the spread of coronavirus has now become a global crisis.
The Oscar winner, 48, was shocked to learn that much of the world was taking extreme measures to fight COVID-19, with countless people self-isolating at home.
Shocked: Jared Leto was left stunned after emerging from a 12-day desert retreat to discover the spread of coronavirus has now become a global pandemic