Reality stars finally told about pandemic
A group of 14 reality TV stars in Germany have become some of the last people in the world to discover we're currently in the midst of a global health pandemic.
Filming for Big Brother Germany began in early February, and the contestants - who are typically shut off from the rest of society during filming - were kept in the dark as the coronavirus began to spread globally. But backlash on social media prompted producers to finally break the news to them during a live special on Tuesday night.
Newer contestants who had only just entered the house had been banned from speaking to others about the events unfolding outside the Big Brother house.
During the program, the show's host and a doctor delivered the news to the stunned housemates, who were then shown a video about how the virus had spread, how Germany had closed its borders, and how restaurants and bars all over the country had closed down.
Watching Big Brother Germany's live coronavirus special - the host and doctor are in the house, seemingly behind a glass partition. Housemates were just shown a VT summarising news coverage - they appear a bit shellshocked and emotional #BBDE #BigBrother— bbspy (@bbspy) March 17, 2020
Some pictures from Big Brother Germany's live coronavirus special - a few housemates have shed tears but they're generally keeping their composure. The doctor spoke to them at length and is now taking their questions #BBDE #BigBrother pic.twitter.com/CayT9HgERj— bbspy (@bbspy) March 17, 2020
It was also explained to them that the reason they'd stopped hearing applause during live shows was that large audiences had been banned amid the COVID-19 crisis.
After the presentation, the overwhelmed contestants asked about the death rate - which is currently around 20 in Germany - and the risk to their loved ones. By the end of the conversation, several of them were in tears.
Ahead of the emotional special, a spokesman for the German broadcaster announced their plans to share the bad news.
"Big Brother will give all contestants the latest information about COVID-19 in Germany and the whole world tonight," they said in a statement to CNN.
"The first contestants had been cut off from the outside world in preparation for the show on February 6. Theoretically they could know about the virus outbreak in Wuhan/China but don't know anything about the current situation in Germany."
Contestants taking part in the latest season of Big Brother Australia have also had to be updated about the coronavirus and how much it has ramped up in recent weeks.
The season is currently being filmed in Sydney's North Head and it is understood the cast have been inside the Big Brother house for about three weeks.
A spokesman for Endemol Shine Australia told news.com.au that the contestants have been brought up to date with what is going on.
"Endemol Shine Australia takes the health and safety of our crew and contestants extremely seriously," the spokesman said.
"We are working in line with current guidelines and production on Big Brother is continuing.
"Housemates have been brought across the current situation and we are in constant contact with the families to keep all involved up to date."
The World Health Organisation only declared the COVID-19 virus a pandemic on March 11, when the cast was believed to already be well into filming.
Meanwhile, contestants on the Canadian version of the show, which is also currently under way, were reportedly told of the pandemic over the weekend.