A group of reality TV show contestants will finally be told about the coronavirus later in a special edition of the programme.

Most of the housemates on Germany’s edition of Big Brother have been cut off from the outside world since 6 February, when news of the outbreak was emerging from Wuhan in China.

Four further contestants were introduced to the house near Cologne a month later on 6 March, three days before Germany’s first death from the virus.

They were told not to reveal the news to those already there, a normal instruction for those joining after the start.

Initially, broadcaster Sat. 1 said it was not planning to tell them, but, following uproar on social media, it has announced they will be told in a special live episode on Tuesday evening.

The 14 men and women will be given the chance to ask questions about what’s happening in the country, as well as receive video messages from their relatives.

The situation carries echoes of the US Big Brother show in 2001, when producers interrupted to tell the final three contestants about 9/11, a move prompted by the fact that one housemate had a relative missing in the aftermath of the attacks.

The German housemates are already split up into two residences.

One is a lavish modernist glasshouse, where contestants are enjoying a hot tub and luxury food; the other, the blockhouse, offers only the bare necessities.

Other Big Brother shows where contestants are in the dark about the spread of coronavirus are also taking place in Canada and Brazil.

The Canadian housemates were filmed discussing why they couldn’t hear the audience’s reaction when the second contestant was evicted on Saturday.

When the first member left, just five days in, the crowd was audible from within the house.

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(c) Sky News 2020: Coronavirus: Big Brother housemates in Germany to be told about virus live on air