A group of 14 men and women, sitting in a house in Cologne, Germany, are probably the last ones to know about the rapid spread of Covid-19, as they compete in the country's 13th season of the reality tv show Big Brother.
Before the show introduced new housemates — three days before Germany would report its first death from the virus— most of them had been in isolation since early February when news of the novel coronavirus was slowly trickling out of Wuhan in China.
According to the show's producers, the information blackout would only be lifted in certain circumstances, such as a family member’s illness. They also pointed to “special hygiene measures” taken to protect residents themselves from infection, though did not explain what those measures entailed.
But after uproar on social media, it was announced that in a live special episode the housemates will be told of the growing crisis. They will be given the opportunity to ask questions about the state of the nation, as well as receive video messages from their relatives.
Big Brother Germany, a 20th-anniversary revival of the show after a five-year hiatus, isn’t the only iteration of Big Brother currently conducting an accidental quarantine: contestants on Big Brother Brazil, who moved in in January, and Big Brother Canada, who entered their house on 4 March, have been left equally clueless.