"We’re going to Smurferize the coronavirus": Thousands gather in France to set a world record right before ban on large groups.

By James Hibberd
March 09, 2020 at 01:56 PM EDT

This idea probably wasn't from Brainy Smurf.

Thousands of people in Western France ignored warnings against gathering in large groups to break a world record for the largest gathering of Smurfs on Saturday.

Despite cases of the novel coronavirus, a.k.a. COVID-19, escalating in Europe, a total of 3,549 turned out in Landerneau dressed in blue and wearing blue face paint in honor of the movie and TV animated characters to set a Guinness World Record, according to UPI. The event broke last year's record of 2,762 Smurfs in Germany.

On Sunday, France banned gathering in groups of more than 1,000 people to help prevent the spread of the virus, which has infected more than 110,000 worldwide and killed nearly 4,000.

“We figured we wouldn’t worry, and that as French people we wouldn’t give up on our attempt to break the record,” one Smurf told AFP in the video above. “Now we’re champions of the world... there’s no risk. We’re going to Smurferize the coronavirus!"

France has roughly 1,200 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the fifth most in the world, and 21 deaths.

Countries including the U.S. are struggling to slow the spread of the deadly virus, which has overwhelmed critical health care providers in countries such as Italy, Iran, and South Korea. Some of the most commonly suggested practices for fighting the spread of the coronavirus include washings your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (especially after touching public surfaces), not touching your face, and avoiding large crowds and the ill (as well as, perhaps, French Smurfs).

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