NEW DELHI - India will offer bank loans amounting to 3 trillion rupees ($39.85 billion) to small businesses, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Wednesday, as part of measures to combat the damage caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Under the plan, the government will provide a credit guarantee to businesses to avail collateral-free loans from banks, aiming to help 4.5 million businesses by October 2020, she said.

The allocation is part of a 20 trillion rupee ($266 billion) fiscal and monetary package to support the economy that has been battered by a weeks-long lockdown.

India has more than 74,000 cases among its 1.3 billion population and is set to surpass China, the origin of the outbreak, in next few days.

($1 = 75.2760 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Aftab Ahmed and Manoj Kumar; Editing by Sanjeev Miglai) ((; +91 11 4954 8029; Reuters Messaging: