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'Dear Elon': Ukraine takes up Tesla's ventilator offer via Twitter


KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine has taken to Twitter to ask Elon Musk to send it ventilators after the billionaire chief executive of Tesla Inc offered to ship them across the world during the coronavirus pandemic.

Musk said this week he was ready to send the life-saving machines wherever his company delivers, free of charge.

"Dear Elon, Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe with population nearly 40 mln citizens," Kiev's embassy in Washington wrote on Twitter late on Wednesday.

"The pandemic situation in Ukraine is approaching its peak, April is going to be the hardest. People in hospitals need ventilators. We are ready to cooperate! Dyakuyemo! (Thank you!)"

Former health minister Ulana Suprun tweeted a separate appeal to the entrepreneur. "Ukraine is in dire need of ventilators," she wrote. There was no immediate response from Musk or Tesla.

Governments across the world, including in Tesla's home the United States, are scrambling to get enough ventilators as patients with respiratory conditions linked to the coronavirus pandemic overwhelm hospitals.

Ukraine had reported 804 coronavirus cases and 20 related deaths as of Thursday morning. It is one of Europe's poorest countries and its healthcare spending is a fraction of its Western peers.

Some of the country's wealthiest men have chipped in to buy ventilators from abroad, in response to an urgent appeal by hospitals to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

And representatives of state defence conglomerate Ukroboronprom are leading an initiative to boost domestic production of the machines based on technology developed during the Soviet era.

Musk tweeted on Tuesday that he was ready to "ship to hospitals worldwide within Tesla delivery regions. Device & shipping cost are free. Only requirement is that the vents are needed immediately for patients, not stored in a warehouse."

A week earlier he said Tesla had bought ventilators from China for U.S. hospitals and that a Tesla factory in New York would also start manufacturing them.

(This story has been corrected to fix typo in paragraph 5)

(Reporting by Matthias Williams; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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