Large areas of East London remained cordoned-off today by the army and police. Elsewhere in the country, people from East London are being asked to make their way, silently, to rapidly constructed isolation centres.
Medical experts and linguists have been working through the night to begin to answer the question of how the cockney accent could have mutated into the highly contagious strain which has affected thousands in the UK during the past seven days.
The very rapid spread of the accent was terrifyingly illustrated to the Nation and Commonwealth yesterday when Her Majesty the Queen began a speech with the words 'Cor blimey wot a bleedin' year it's bin.'
A spokesperson for the Department of Health revealed that the new strain appears to be even more virulent than the American accent which swept across the United States leaving the English language in ruins. Once infected with 'Cockney C1H2', a victim is unable to modify his or her speech to any other form. The number of syllables which constitutes an infectious dose is still being researched, although cases have been reported after viewing just four episodes of the UK television soap Eastenders.
Those who have been in contact with East Londoners are being advised to contact their doctors as soon as possible. No diagnostic tests have yet been developed, but early symptoms can be identified. These include dropping of 'H' at the start of words and 'G' at the end, together with the meaningless, random interjection of swear words as adjectives into sentences. The Master of an Oxfordshire hunt was recently saved by an alert, medically trained, fellow member who heard the words 'Me soddin' groom's gettin' me bleedin' 'orse so I can join the pissin' 'ounds for a spot of f**kin' 'untin''.
He was rushed to the Radcliff Royal Infirmary in Oxford and immediately treated with archive tape recordings of Her Majesty the Queen reading speeches. This is currently the only known treatment, and clinicians must weigh-up the risk to the patient from the disease as compared to the risk of dying from boredom during treatment. Fortunately this man recovered with only a slight residual tendency to lapse into rhyming slang.
Professionals working with victims have been issued with special protective helmets that distort the sound of voices speaking to them. They are trained to look away from victims during conversations to reduce the risk of lip reading. They are also provided with equipment that monitors exposure to the accent and are checked daily to ensure the recommended dose is not exceeded.
There have already been claims for compensation made by two Scottish nurses who were exposed to the accent while working in an East London A&E department. They argued, through an interpreter, that no one could understand a word they were saying due to their accents since they were infected. This case was dismissed on the grounds that no one could understand a word they were saying due to their accents before they were infected.
As fear grips the bleedin' country all we can do is be soddin' vigilant......Ahhhhhh......